« НазадПродовжити »
you say that, you simply express the working days of the week. They profound and growing conviction of mean that they should try to speak the Church. The Bible itself is on the truth, to act honestly, to feel your side so often as you affirm: kindly, in the home, in the shop, in “When God redeemed men by the the factory or the counting-house. grace of Christ, He spake not nor Oddly enough, they drop Sunday commanded them concerning rites and the Church out of their reckonand ordinances; but this He com- ing, or do not keep these clearly manded, saying, Obey my voice, and before them. Sunday is their day of I will be your God, and ye shall be rest; i.l., the day on which they my people; and walk ye in all the may relax a little from the hard task ways I have commanded you, that it of duty and be at ease. The Church may be well with you.” It is impos- is at most a place in which they may sible to deny that such an affirma- be pleasantly instructed or soothed, tion is a fair paraphrase of the Pro- not a place in which they are to phet's words, a fair and rational labour and to deny themselves. application of them to your position. They do not feel that the House of I for one have no wish to deny it. God has the same kind of claim Obedience is better than sacrifice; upon them that the home has or the to do one's duty by one's neighbour factory, that its services are just as is the true ritualism, the best. And binding on them as the labours of those of us who care very little for their daily business. They are often outward religious forms may be very absent from it for reasons which sure, that, if we are trying to do would not keep them from their weekour duty by our neighbour and to day work: they say, “We are bound keep ourselves unspotted from the to go to business ; we cannot negworld, we are aiming at that pure lect that," but they do not feel that and undefiled ritualism, and are they are equally bound to wait upon offering that reasonable service, the Lord in His House. The tasks which God approves and will accept.
and will accept. by which they win bread for the But before we go further, let us body are obligatory upon them; the make quite certain of our ground. ordinances by which they nourish Our supreme aim should be “ to do the life of the spirit are not obligaour duty in our daily life :” but is tory, although, if you put it to them, not Sunday one of our days ? are they frankly admit that the life is not its duties a part of our duty ? more than meat, and the spirit more Do you reply, What an absurd than the flesh. Inverting the true question! Of course Sunday is one order, they practically assume that of the days of our week, and its they may neglect the spirit, but not duties a part, and a very pleasant the body; the Church, but not the part, of our duty.” The question world; God, but not man. And is not so absurd as it sounds. There therefore, my brethren, if you have are some folk who, when speaking any of you fallen into this way of of their duty to God, quietly drop thought, you will do well to consider all the week-days out of their whether you can be doing your duty thoughts. They assume that God in your daily life, if you drop one has little to do with their secular day in seven out of your account, life; that what He cares for is the and that the day which God has worship of the Sanctuary and, what specially reserved for His service. they call, the Sabbath. But, on the You will do well to consider whether other hand, there are persons who, you can be doing your duty if you when they speak of their duty to neglect any duties which God has God, think only or mainly of their laid upon you, and above all if you duties in the world and on the six ' neglect the very duties by which
your spirits are specially prepared, trying to do our duty in the world, for His eternal service and joy. and that forms are nothing as com
Again: we must not treat the pared with a good life, we expose text unfairly, even that we may ourselves to the reply: “Have you justify or excuse ourselves. It is no duty to the Church as well as to quite fair, as I have said, to affirm the world? How can you be doing that when God redeemed men He your duty, or even trying to do it, said nothing about rites and ordi- when here are duties which you nances, but bade them obey His make no effort to discharge? Relivoice and walk in His ways.
It is gious ordinances, Church duties, are quite fair to say, therefore, that part of a good life, since they are obedience is and must be better than imposed upon us, for our good, by any observance of forms. But it is the authority of God Himself. not fair to deny, or to forget, that If any one object : “But I don't the observance of forms may be a see the good of them !” the retort is part of obedience. If at any time obvious: “Probably God does, or God has said, and said to you, “Be He would not have enjoined them: baptized for the remission of your and are you wiser than God.” sins,” or, “Do this in remembrance If any one should object : “But of me,” or, “ Rest from your labours who is the Lord that I should do as on my day and worship me in my He bids ?” he opens a House”- ?-are not these command- larger subject on which we cannot ments binding on you ?
enter now, and need not, since, I obeying God's voice if you do not suppose, no one of you disputes the observe these ordinances ? Are you Divine authority. You admit that walking in all the ways which He if God has appointed certain relicommanded you, if you are not gious forms, He has ordained them walking in these commandments ? for your good, that He may teach
I fear, brethren, that the ground and comfort and strengthen you so on which we stood a while ago is not often as you observe them. You so solid as it seemed, that it trem- admit that the worship of His house, bles ominously beneath our weight. baptism, and the Lord's supper, are Religious forms may be transient, such forms, and that they are more changeable, revocable; but, so long or less binding on all who love Him. as they last, they are binding on us, But nevertheless you may have a if at least we know that God has feeling that these forms are not of appointed them. To obey God is to any great moment after all, that it be religious; but ritualism, in so far lies very much at your option or as it expresses His will, is part of your convenience whether you observe our religion. Morality is far above them or do not observe them; that all ordinances ; but we have not the your non-observance of them is of true morality so long as we neglect no importance so long as you try to any divine command: for what is do your duty and to live a good life. our morality but a doing of the It is this obscure persuasion, this Divine Will?
unavowed feeling, I believe, which If, then, we neglect public wor- is fast emptying our sanctuaries and ship, or do not put it on at least as in every way weakening our churches. high a level as our other duties : if Good Christian men, or men who we are not baptized, or do not come are sincerely endeavouring to be to the Lord's supper, or if we take good on the Christian rule, are inno part in the distinctive labours of fluenced by it; and under its inthe Church ; and if, as a reason for fluence are relaxing their use of our non-observance of these duties the means of grace. On all hands, and forms, we plead that we are at least from the Nonconformist Churches, we hear the complaint, that we ought to listen to His voice: that those who were wont to be we are quite sure that it will not be punctual as the hour, are growing well with us if we disobey it. But irregular and infrequent in their the sanction and obligation of ordiattendance on public worship; that nances is not so obvious. When the men are so steeped in worldly busi- Divine Commandment means, “Go ness, and so wearied by it, that they to chapel ; be baptized; take the have neither time nor energy for the supper of the Lord !” even a good service of the Church. This, the man may doubt whether it is essennon-observance of religious forms tial to his well-being that he should by religious persons, is the danger obey. He may think, and think and the sin of the present time. quite sincerely, that it will be better And in great measure probably it for him to lie-a-bed, or to take a springs from the broader and more walk, or to talk to his children, than generous views of truth which have to go to God's house: he
think of late found acceptance among us.
that haptism would be a bore to him We have learned to hold that rather than a blessing : and that it obedience is better than sacrifice, would be no real help to him to eat till at last we have come to think and drink with Christ. And here there need be no sacrifice in our for him lies the true value of ordiobedience ;
that God demands no nances. Precisely because they do service of us which entails personal not commend themselves to him as inconvenience or worldly loss. And moral laws do, precisely because he therefore we need to be reminded of does not think them essential to his the real meaning of one of the first moral welfare, they are the critical, principles of the faith. “ Obedience the crucial, tests of his obedience. better than sacrifice" is a principle, God says to Him, “This, and that, a fundamental principle of the Faith will be good for you.” Says the man, of Christ. It cuts sheer through "I really don't think they will; I hypocrisy and formalism. But the can find something better to do.” keener the principle, the more deeply But if he is really of a Christian we may wound ourselves with it, if spirit, he will soon add, “ After all we mishandle it. And we are mis- God must know best; and therehandling this principle, if we use it fore I will take my law from His to justify any neglect of any Divine mouth, and bow my will to His.” command. We are not doing our My brethren, accept the warning. duty while we consciously neglect If you have neglected the ordinances any duty. We are not obeying of God's House, because you have God's voice so long as we refuse" to not seen how you should be the hearken and do" in respect to any of
better for observing them, your His commandments. We are not obedience has been put to the most living so good a life as we might delicate of all tests, and has failed. and ought to live, so long as we You have taken your own way in
from any means of grace stead of God's, because you did not He offers us.
see that His way was best. So long Religious ordinances, though they as you could walk by sight as you are of little worth as compared with followed Him, you were content to spiritual obedience, are nevertheless keep His paths : but the very the most accurate and delicate tests moment faith was demanded of you, of obedience. Moral command- and you were called to tread a path ments carry their own sanction with the end of which you could not disthem. When God says, “ Thou shalt cern, your heart failed
you not lie, Thou shalt not steal, Thou refused to trust in God. Retrace shalt not murder," we have no doubt your steps. Redeem the opportu
nities that remain. If you admit voice, and walk in the ways which that God has invited you to join He has commanded you. And it the fellowship of His Son, and com- shall be well with you; for God will manded you to be baptized and to be your God, and ye shall be His come to the Lord's table, obey His people.
FAMILIAR TALKS WITH YOUNG CHRISTIANS.
No. XI.--Evidence or Disposition-Which? THE prompt and decisive way in which said, “such posers that they almost took George Mostyn had dealt with the diffi- your breath away and left you without a culties thrown across his path by Joseph leg to stand on." Bradley did not altogether satisfy him Besides," George said to himself, the next day. The courageous mood “ isn't it a shallow and cowardly way of and clear sight of truth had left him; dealing with intellectual difficulties to and in their loss, he hardly felt sure put them aside merely because they proeither about the method he had adopted, duce unpleasant results ? Isn't it backor the results, good as they were, he had ing out of a contest that ought to be secured.
fought to the very last, even though it There are sublime moments in these bring defeat? Don't I long to be true, common everyday lives of ours when the severely true, believing nothing but truth stands before us self-illumined, what I see to be true; and should I not and the full vision of her beauty and shrink from accepting any, even the splendour is given to us. We are on a highest moral good, by holding a proved Pisgah height, and the wide land of and palpable falsehood ? Ah me! why is promise lies before us definite as our own it so hard to get into the light of God ?” little garden. At such times we do not These last words were spoken with all so much believe as see; and the sight the impatience and fear of one who feels inspires us, and we mount far beyond as if the only anchor by which he is our ordinary selves. Hesitation is swal- safely held is slipping away, and he lowed up by sharply cut and soul-moving knows not on what wild seas his frail convictions; faith gives place to full barque will drift. The voice within asassurance, and we feel ashamed of our- sured him that whatever was morally selves that we ever entertained a ques- and spiritually hurtful must be intellection of truth's loveliness, or doubted one tually untrue. His love of truth, manly of her gracious words. To those who daring, and thorough conscientiousness, know no double-dealing, and with sweet forced him to admit that what is intelpure-heartedness look for God, life is lectually false can be proved to be so. sure to bring many such moments. Between these two voices he had no George had a single eye, and when he abiding place; he was bewildered, and suddenly confronted the moral ruin to- almost helpless. wards which his harboured scepticism How strange the experiences that was rapidly driving him, he felt his whole make their common home in one human being full of light, and could say, with heart! What perplexity, mystery, and all the warrant of divinerevelation, “The change, fill the little separate world in cause of the sceptics is wrong and false which each one lives! Numberless conand bad, for its touch has been spiritual tradictions, fitful feelings, certain uncercorruption, and its partial embrace has tainties, how they crowd and jostle cut off the growing locks of manly within us! The self of yesterday is so strength.”
unlike the self of to-day that it cannot be But the dark hours brought misgiving, traced in the mirror of experience held and he almost wished he could have his before us now. Peter is bold as a lion, letter back. His words seemed over- and daring as Samson, for Christ his weighted. He had “reckoned without Lord at the passover on the Thursday his host” when he said he was quite night, and before Friday at dinner he sure that Bradley's objections were un- has denied Him with as many oaths, sound.” He did feel that they ought curses, and lies, as if he loathed Him. to be; and deep down in his heart was At early morn there is not a whiff of cloud the half-formed conviction, struggling in our horizon; ere the shades of evenfor expression, that they must be. Stili ing enwrap us we have weathered death. some of them were, as Bradley defiantly dealing storms. From light to dark,
from unspeakable joy to life-sapping “ Certainly not. The Bible does not dejection, from invincible power to pros- come to man as to a critic, who is to trate weakness, we pass and repass more analyze and weigh in the scales of his rapidly than Mother Earth wheels her mind, and to the utmost nicety, every course from genial brightness and heal- grain of living bread it gives him before ing warmth to thickening mists and in- he eats it. It speaks to him as to a creasing fogs.
sinner, a lost man, needing the pardon Tossed up and down on the billows of of sin, the help of God, and the hope of these changing April moods, George eternal life. În a tone of authority, as told the story of his intellectual difficul- above all other speakers, as coming from ties; alternating between a feeling of the very presence of God, it addresses contempt for himself for ever having men, assuring them that they may have given them any quarter, and the opposite life in the Saviour, whose glory it reveals. feeling of the necessity of facing them if It is bread to be eaten by the hungry, he were not to prove himself a coward water to be drunk by the thirsty, comand a slave. Resolved steadily to master, fort for the mourner, and light for those and not to shirk them, we chatted, hour that sit shivering and cold in the shadow after hour, about the questions commonly of death. Because you do not know all felt by doubting young men, and started the ingredients in the healing medicine by the apostles
of scepticism concerning is it not to be drunk? If some rooms of miracles, Biblical history, prophecy, and the King's great palace are closed so that the like. To state the Personal Will and you cannot get in, will you therefore Almightiness of God was quite enough to object to go in and sit down with him at show George the possibility of miracles his feast. The negro story says that being performed; if any reason at all when Sambo's master said he was troubled existed why a good and kind God, the because he could not understand the kind and pitiful Father of men, should eighth of Romans, Sambo cried aloud, work them. Such “reason” in abund- “0, Massa, massa, that is right away ance was found in the teeming sin and in the Epistles, you must learn the sorrow and unintelligible darkness and Gospels, and the Acts of the Apostles despair of life. So that the question of first." So if a man says he cannot bemiracle became one of evidence merely, lieve the story of Jonah, I should ask i.e., of history. And beginning with him if he could and did believe the story Roman history, clearly attested and of Christ. Let him take what he can toeverywhere admitted, even by the most day, and depend upon it God will give sceptical, we travelled to the Four Gos- him more to-morrow.' pels and Epistles, under the guidance of “But my friend says there ought to Isaac Taylor's Restoration of Belief, and be no difficulties of any sort in a revelathere found solid and sufficient footing tion, and asks why it is not so clear that for the largest faith. Next came the every body can understand it? If it were “historical difficulties” of the Old Testa- from a good and loving Godit would be.” ment, such as the existence of the de- “Would it now? Do you think it scendants of Cush, the invasion of Pa- would George ?” lestine by the five Kings from the neigh- Well, at first I thought surely infinite bourhood of the Persian Gulf in the intelligence can make all things plain; time of Abraham, and the journey and then I remembered that Christ said through the “ Desert.” Recent travels to his disciples, “I have many things to and recent history, which had shown a say to you, but ye cannot bear them now,' “first Cushite Empire,” verified the dis- and I imagined it must necessarily be so. puted invasion, and cleared away much of There will be things we can't understand the haze that surrounded the “ Wilder- in any message the great God sends to ness of the Wanderings,” effectively dealt such feeble-minded creatures as we are.” with many of these Biblical problems, “ To be sure. Much that a father and at least suggested the probability says to his child is dark and mysterious. concerning the remainder that further The young mind cannot catch the meaninvestigation might also remove them, ing of his words, and has to wait and and that therefore it would be unjust to spell out their significance from expereject the word of God on their account.
So we are in the dark, and do But,” said George, in one of these not see at first all that God means; but talks, “Do you think a man should be experience opens our eyes and puts into fully satisfied about everything in the His words a power and a grace we had Bible before he gives his assent to Chris- not even dreamt of before." tianity, and makes its precepts the guide “So that you think we ought to exof his life, and its promises the solace of pect difficulties in the Bible.” his heart.”
* Indeed it would have been very sur