« PreviousContinue »
God changes man into his own image. Every believer is a christian only so far as his "faith works by love."''] Just in proportion as men's faith is real, they love God and love one another. When and where the grace of Christ is fully believed, there love entirely supplants selfishness. Let, then, faith in Jesus be universal, let it be real, let it believe that “ Christ loved us and gave himself for us,"?_that “herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins;”: and such faith will revolutionize society, by revolutionizing every heart which composes it. It will utterly unteach men the present universal practice of living to themselves. It will make accumulating wealth, while all around us are poor, a disgrace. It will contrive ten thousand means for carrying up all around us in an harmoniously advancing scale of comfort. It will seek happiness, not by additions to its thousands, or enlarging its proprietorship, but by adding to the resources of others, and diffusing instead of hoarding. It will act on the precept which one of the firmest believers in Christ, not only taught others, but exultingly obeyed himself, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” 4 Whenever, we repeat, faith in Christ overrules the habits and maxims of society, a race of disciples will arise, whose grand aim will be, not to add to their own comforts, but to impart to the poor and needy.
But what a change! Rich and poor alike unselfish, none liking to take from another, none liking to keep from another. A contest, not how much I can get of you, and how much you can get of me, but how much each can do for the other ! Yet this is no Utopia. It is to be, if Christianity is not a dream. And we affirm that the first Religion which taught such love as this,-the Religion which started with love like this, 5 —the Religion which compelled the heathen to exclaim, Behold, how these christians love one another,—the Religion which drew from the mouth of a heathen opponent the jeer, “that these silly people were easily imposed on to relieve any one who pretended to be a believer,”— -we affirm that this Religion is not, cannot, be a dream of man. Its spirit, its aspect, are Divine. Love is of God. The great Apostle of love must be the Son of God. And faith in Him, and nothing else, will give the troubled nations peace, and will calm into an even flow the hostile currents of society. We need no Philosopher or Theorist, but we do need that the kingdom and glory of Christ should be disenthralled from the chains of Priestcraft, Superstition, and Worldliness, and His redeeming love urged with a new vigour on the hearts of men. All other devices are but multiplications of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil; this is the Tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. May God HASTEN THE TIME OF UNIVERSAL FAITH IN CHRIST!
. Gal. v. 6. 2 Gal. ii. 20. * 1 John iv, 10. 4 Acts xx. 35,
6 Acts iv. 32-37; xi. 27-30; 2 Cor. viii. 1-15; Gal. ii. 10.
THE LOVE OF CHRIST.
Nothing is so powerful as love, but it can only influence us through faith. However much a person may love me, it would have no influ. ence except I believe it. Just so it is with sinners. They read of the love of Jesus, they hear of that love, but it does not affect them, just because they do not believe that it applies to them. The love Jesus is the most wonderful subject known in the universe, and yet it has no influence upon thousands, because they do not believe it. The apostle John could say, “We have known and believed the love which God hath to us; God is love." But very few can honestly say this. The Lord Jesus himself said, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Paul could say, “The love of Christ constraineth us.”
Now suppose the working classes did really believe that the Lord Jesus Christ loved them,—that he realized their misery and read their doom,_and in order to save them therefrom, took their nature, and died in their stead,-must it not powerfully affect them ? Would they not hear of him with reverence, think of him with gratitude, trust in him with confidence, speak of him with feeling, and obey him with cheerfulness ? Surely they would. If, therefore, they are not affected with the love of Christ, it is because they do not believe it. How important then is faith! And if Jesus loves us, if he tells us so in his word, and if he has proved it by dying in our stead, must it not grieve him when we refuse to believe the love which he has to us? Without faith it is impossible to please him; for until we believe him, we treat him as if his word was not worthy of credit, or, to use the apostle's strong language, we “ make him a liar.”
Reader, if Jesus had no love for you, would he send his servants to warn you, and his witnesses to assure you? And if he has thus proved his love, ought you not to believe it? And if you do not, are you not guilty of a great crime ? A crime for which you can find no excuse, and for which you can never answer at his judgment-seat where you must appear? What ingratitude to treat his love with con. tempt! What folly to expose oneself to his wrath for despising his loving word! What criminality must that be which made even the loving Paul to say, “If every man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed when the Lord cometh !”
But if I believe that Jesus loves meg-if I receive his precious invitations,-if I believe his faithful promises,-if I rest upon the truthfulness of his word,-have I not enough to make me happy! Suppose my fellow-sinners hate me,-suppose they persecute me,– suppose they sneer at me,-suppose they affect to pity me,-what then ? If the King of kings loves me, if the Son of God manifests himself to me--all must be well: and he says, “I love them that love me." The love of Jesus is like the bow in the cloud in the day of storms, it assures me of safety; it is like the flowing fountain in the dreary desert, it assures me of supply: it is like the bright sun in a dark world, it enlightens, enlivens, and warms me: it is like the harmony of heaven, brought to cheer the solitude and gloom of earth. Love of Jesus ! fill my heart, occupy my thoughts, feast my intellect, inflame my zeal, animate my hopes, brighten my prospects, and fill me to overflowing with holiness and love to him again! Reader, I can wish you nothing better than that you may “know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge," and so be "filled with all the fulness of God.”
“His love what mortal thought can reach !
What mortal tongue display !
In wonder dies away.
Left the bright realms of bliss,
Was ever love like this!"
WHITHER ARE YOU GOING ! Some time ago, travelling on a coach from a small town to a railway station, I entered into conversation with a person who had long been a hearer of the gospel, and, indeed, had not unfrequently heard it from my own lips. Amongst other subjects, the late railway accidents were discussed, and the danger of express trains. On my declaring a preference for these trains, he replied, “ It may be all very well for you ; you are prepared for the worst; but if any thing were to happen to me, I should go to the devil.” He further acknowledged that he often thought of the needful preparation ; but, although advancing in years, was not yet prepared. He was going to the devil, he said (alas ! too truly), and was not even earnestly seeking to escape.
Reader ! is this the case with you ? Are you, to use the words of the person above referred to, “going to the devil ?” If snatched away by accident or sudden death, do you feel that Satan's dwellingplace must be yours ! And yet are you indifferent, neglecting that way which alone can obtain your deliverance ? What a fearful condition! What strange, unaccountable folly! Think of what your confession means. It means that you will be for ever shut out, without hope, without the probability of a favourable change, from God's love, and protection, and blessing,~from all society with the noble and the good,—from all happiness, and from heaven. It means that you will have to endure the vengeance of Him of whom it is said, “ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, for our God is a consuming fire,”-that you will “ be cast into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone.” And do you really intend to say that you believe, know, this, and yet do not seek to escape ? Oh, how can you dwell with the devouring fames ? how can you lie down in everlasting burnings ?
Is it sin that holds you back from Christ, notwithstanding your conviction that you are wrong? Yes, it is; you love it; and you hope some day to forsake it when you love it less. But the natural course is to love it more. A woman, who had once with regularity and interest attended the house of God, and was even upon the verge of discipleship, but who afterwards became a drunkard, said to me on one occasion, “Sir, I know I am lost! I am sure of it! I would give all I possess to save my soul, but I cannot keep from gin. If a glass of it were put into my hand, and the instant I drank it I should fall into the flames of hell, I would drink! I have practised the sin so long that I could not resist it.” I shall never forget the intense anguish of her look and tones while she made this declaration. She afterwards, not long afterwards, died in a fit of intoxication.
Oh, do not parley with sin. Delay not a moment your earnest application for the mercy of God in Christ. If temporal ruin were im. pending over you, you would eagerly embrace a remedy; if the body were to be destroyed, how gladly would you accept forgiveness and life! How much more, then, when you are in danger of eternal ruin, of the destruction of “both soul and body in hell !” Go to Christ for pardon, and you will be delivered from the wicked one, and will exchange the dread of hell for the hope of heaven.
“NOW IS THE ACCEPTED TIME.”
Now is the day of grace:
Now to the Saviour come!
And I will guide you home!
Where Jesus reigns supreme,
Home of your sweetest dream.
Where tears are never shed;
With flowers the path we tread.
Oh, wherefore then delay?
He bids you come to-day.
The promise is to save;
May shine upon your grave.
Narratives, Anecdotes, &c.
THE HAPPY CHOICE. . It is very delightful to observe the power of the grace of God in every heart where it is truly possessed. Very interesting is it to watch the workings of the hidden, yet active leaven, in quickening and transforming the soul; or to mark how every opposing principle or adverse passion is subdued, when once the truth as it is in Jesus is received in the love of it.
Louisa M., the subject of the following simple narration, was the only daughter of one of the wealthiest resident proprietors in the west of Ireland. Both her parents, and nearly all their connexions, were of the Roman Catholic religion; but, save a weekly attendance at the performance of mass, and some extra services on various saint days, their profession was but a convenient cloak for an habitual dis. regard of almost every religious precept or obligation. In accordance with an usual custom, Louisa was sent at an early age to a convent on the coast of France, where, in addition to the usual branches of a polite education, she was initiated into all the forms of Romish superstition, and trained in the greatest reverence for that communion. Here she was taught to look to the priests as the only authorized teachers of the people, and to the pope as the great dispenser of spi. ritual blessings, and therefore to attribute that saving efficacy to their ministrations which can never reside in any ordinance by whomsoever administered, or be of necessity connected with any service, however pure, holy, or glorious.
At the time of which I write, her mind was beginning to expand, and her enquiries to be excited; and, little as she had seen of the world, it was impossible for the sisterhood to succeed in inducing her to renounce all its claims upon her, and all her expectations from it, and to seek her highest happiness and greatest usefulness in the gloom of a cloister, and the repetition of endless prayers. When she was about bursting into womanhood, she returned to the parental roof; and here the gaiety and ease that prevailed contrasted strangely in her mind with the monotony of the scene and occupations of former years. She was now intent upon pursuing earthly gratification, present fancied pleasure, only occasionally, however, seeking to atone for past frivolities by submitting to penance and confession. This, too, was but intended to pave the way for still further indulgence in forgetfulness
Need we say that, amidst all this, Louisa was at times unbappy ? Can we suppose that the inward and intense craving of our nature for something really good was thus satisfied ? Far from this. There were seasons when it was indeed otherwise. In the silence of night,