Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

oma th srewed unen Toe fertile vaes ana e

fertile vales and enc

And it is the combination of the power and influence of the faithful that represents and instrumentally carries on the cause of God in the world. Now, it is only natural to expect that every consecrated spirit, as it increases in knowledge, in influence, and in personal holiness, should proportionally increase in efforts for the advancement of Christ's kingdom. And there are many motives to induce to this enlarged action, such as the manifold mercies of God constantly realized, -expanded views of the blessedness of Christ's kingdom, a consciousness of the perilous condition of the wicked, the increasing efforts of Antichrist; added to which, everything in the world around is progressing—art, science, commerce, civilization. And shall the church be stationary? Can the Lord's wit.. nesses remain inert and inactive when all around them is in a state of feverish excitement and activity ? Oh, Christian! the land of promise is before you, go up and possess it. The time has arrived when every répresentative of the Saviour's cause should be nerved for active duty, and, if called upon, for suffering also. Amidst the mighty movements of the age, God is saying to each faithful servant, “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Notwithstanding all the conflicting elements, “the Lord of hosts is with us.” If the true church of Jesus is faithful to her trust, we cannot doubt that a glorious era will ere long dawn upon her; the dark cloud has a “silver lining,”-the threatening storm will pass away,—the conflict is only the precursor of glorious victory. When the immortal Hannibal was crossing the Alpine mountains of eternal snow, in order to rally the drooping spirits of his warriors amidst indescribable hardships and suffering, he took them to a point and shewed th

ards beneath the sunny skies of Italy, intimating that by a few more efforts they should repose there. With far greater certainty may we point the faithful followers of Christ to the immortalizing scenes and transcendently glorious prospects awaiting the church after a few more struggles. “Her wilderness shall be like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and glad. ness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody." The whole earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.

But whatever part we may be permitted to take in the coming glorious kingdom of Christ, “Forward” must now be our watchword. “What. soever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might,” for daily are we rapidly advancing towards the end of our course. “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed: a few more Sabbath day's journies, few more encampments in the wilderness, a few more storms and conflicts, and the turmoil of life is ended. The warrior then returns from his campaign to realize the delights of victory, the heir then takes possession of the inheritance,—and the weary pilgrim arrives at home. But while within the precincts of Earth's enchanted region, he must not “sleep, as do others.” To indulge repose were criminal and dangerous. To remain inactive is to form a league with the enemy; to stand still is equivalent to going backward. With the voice of God commanding, a sense of duty urging, angels expecting, and glorified spirits inviting, oh, christian, “Go forward.”

“Think not of rest; though dreams be sweet,
Start up, and ply your heaven-ward feet.
Is not God's oath upon your head,
Ne'er to sink back on slothful bed ?
Never again your loins untie,
Nor let your torches waste and die,
Till, when the shadows thickest fall,
You hear your Master's midnight call!"

A SPIRITUAL HOUSE.

1 Peter ii. 5.

BY THE REV. J. JENKINSON. Every kind of animated existence has its appropriate dwelling-place. Leviathan has his home in the waters; the fir-trees are the house of the stork; the high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies (Ps. civ. 17, 18). Bees have their cells, lions their dens, foxes their holes, and birds their nests. Man, also, has his habitations : some rude and inconvenient, as the tent or wigwam; others splendid and spa. cious, as the mansion or the palace. Higher orders of beings have their dwelling-places too: devils and lost souls have their home in hell; angels and regenerated sinners have their residence in heaven. Jehovah, too, has his appropriate habitation:

“Eternity's His dwelling-place.” Heaven is his throne, earth his footstool. He inhabits the universe, but more than fills it; for even heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain him. Yet so wondrous is his condescension and his grace, that on earth he has a mansion too.

“ The humble spirit and contrite,

Is an abode of His delight.” And the aggregate of such contrite souls constitutes that church, or spi. ritual house, concerning which he has said, “This is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it.”

In submitting a few remarks on this house, we notice

1. Its spirituality. Other buildings are material; this is spiritual. Some of them are constructed of earth or of clay; others of stone or of iron; others of oak or of cedar; others of marble or of crystal; but this is composed wholly of spiritual and immortal things, all of which are found in the quarries of nature, and the forests of sin, many of them originally as hard as adamant,-not a few of them so rugged and uncouth as to render it highly improbable that they can ever be fitted to occupy a place in a house so glorious and so beautiful,-and all of them apparently so worthless as to be utterly unsuitable to be thus employed; yet in the hands of the divine and wonder-working Architect, they become more precious than gold or gems, and reflect his glory“as corner-stones polished after the similitude of a palace.” It is constructed, too, not on mechanical principles, but spiritual; not for corporeal, but for spiritual purposes.

2. Its site. "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth,” is this house. With its lofty turrets and golden pinnacles rising far above the sky, it stands high on the

“Mount of God's unchanging love." Seen and admired by all holy beings, bebeld and hated by all his enemies, yet unapproachable and impregnable to their utmost rage, and most desperate assaults.

3. Its foundation. In the erection of a building, it is of primary importance to secure a foundation strong enough to sustain it. As might have been anticipated, "the only wise God” has not neglected this essential point. But whence could an adequate foundation be obtained ? For a spiritual house, a material basis would be manifestly incongruous. A house so lofty and so vast, no created being was potent enough to sustain. Nien, angels, and seraphs, the highest, the holiest, the mightiest, and the best, would in an instant have been crushed into ruin by its weight. But when no other basis could be found, Jehovah took his everlasting Son, the

partner of his throne, and said, “Behold, I lay in Zion, for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation” (Isaiah xxviii. 16).

“ We own the work of sovereign love,
Nor death nor hell the hopes shall move,
Which fixed on this foundation stand,

Laid by His own almighty hand.” 4. Its builders. God himself is the architect in chief. The plan, the superintendence, the skill, the power, the glory, are his, and only his. No arm but his has strength sufficient to excavate the stones from the quarry, or to hew down the cedars of the forest, and to fit them for their respective places in the structure. Nevertheless, he condescends to bestow on many of his servants the honour of labouring in the erection of this house. Amongst these, Paul was “a wise master builder;" and some besides might, perhaps, with propriety, receive a similar appellation. Others are builders of inferior note, though still usefully employed. Others are but hewers of wood or drawers of water; yet their services are useful too. Prophets and apostles, martyrs and confessors, missionaries and evan. gelists, pastors and deacons, Sabbath-school teachers and religious tract distributors, are all graciously employed by God as instruments in the erection of this spiritual house.

5. Its purpose. “Ye are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. ii. 22). A spiritual house is the most fitting abode for a spiritual Being. And he has said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. vi. 16). What unspeakable honour, what safety, what comfort, what blessedness, are connected with the thought that we form part of the Lord's house, the temple of the living God! What solemnity, what cogent motives to holiness of heart and life, spring from this consideration too ! For thus saith the Lord, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.

6. Its extent. Many houses are inconveniently small; others uncom. fortably large. Not the most spacious of earthly palaces can, however, in point of extent, compete with this spiritual house; for already its walls are visible not only in every county of Great Britain and Ireland, but also on the continent of Europe, the hills of Palestine, the steppes of Tartary, the plains of India, the coasts of China, the islands of the Pacific, the wilds of Africa, the prairies of America, and especially in the eastern districts of the United States. Yes; already innumerable multitudes which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, have, by the operations of divine grace, obtained a name and a place in this house better than that of sons and of daughters. And still the work is advancing; for we notice . 7. Its progress. The Indian erects his wigwam in an hour; other buildings require a day, a week, a month, a year, ten years, or perhaps forty or fifty years, or more, for their completion. But this house has already been nearly six thousand years in building, and is still unfinished. Fresh stones are every day raised from the quarry,-- fresh instruments prepared to carry on the work,-new manifestations of Divine power and skill presented,-and the comprehensiveness, minuteness, perfection, and beauty of the Architect's design more distinctly developed. And thus, though probably with vastly augmented rapidity, the building inust continue to advance, until the top-stone is brought forth with shoutings of “Grace, grace, unto it.”

8. Its magnificence. “ The house that is to be builded for the Lord, must be exceedingly magnificent, of fame and of glory throughout all countries,” said David (1 Chron. xxii. v). Yes, and the spiritual house of the Lord of which the material temple, in all its splendour, was but a faint and inadequate type-must be of fame and glory, not only through. out all countries, but perhaps, too, throughout all worlds; for (the glory of the latter house shall exceed the glory of the former, saith the Lord of hosts.” The glory of his wisdom, his power, his holiness, his justice, his faithfulness, his truth, his mercy, his grace, his condescension, and his love, will eternally shine forth from this house. The glory of sin forgiven, sinners justified, the unholy cleansed, the children of Satan trans. formed into children of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, will there be exhibited. The glory of “God with us” in the person of Christ, and of God in us by the presence of his Spirit, will there be seen for evermore. Thus will Jehovah fulfil his promise, “I will glorify the house of my glory. The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee; but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.”

9. Its duration. Some dwellings, like a shepherd's tent, are erected in the morning, and removed before the evening; others stand for years, and even centuries; but all earthly things are doomed to perish, either by violence or by the slow but not less certain scathing of the hand of time. Hence not a few of what were once the stateliest, the strongest, or the most beautiful of sublunary edifices, have long ago become heaps of ruins. Yes, and even the heavens shall pass away with a great noise; the earth also, and all the works that are therein, shall be burned up. But amidst all the days and changes of time, and the tremendous conflagration and destruction by which the end of time will be distinguished, this spiritual house will stand not only immoveably secure, but while all terrestrial things are perishing, the unprecedented development of its incomparable design, its exquisite workmanship, its magnificence, its admirable propor. tions, its splendour, and its utility, will excite universal wonder and applause. And throughout the eternity which will succeed the last day of this world's history, this house will retain its glory, its beauty, and its meetness to be the honoured dwelling-place of Him who liveth for ever and ever.

Oakham.

THE OBJECTS TO BE PURSUED.

BY THE REV. JAMES SMITH.

“Follow after charity.”-1 Cor. xiv. 1. The word rendered “charity” is love; and the religion of Jesus is the religion of love. It originated in the love of God to us-his free, infinite, and eternal love; and it produces love in us, first toward himself, and then toward his beloved people. Love is the standard of real religion, and we have just as much religion as we have love. Love is the bond of union in the church of Christ, and should, therefore, be zealously culti. vated, and carefully guarded. The peace, the purity, and the prosperity of the church depends very much upon the love of its members. A loving church is sure to be a peaceful, prosperous, and happy church; but if they have not love, though there may be members, wealth, and quietness, there is no true prosperity. The Corinthian church abounded in gifts, but it was deficient in love; hence its divisions, and the cry, “I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ.” To cure this sad state of things, and bring the whole church into a truly healthy condition, Paul proposes that every member should set his eye and his heart upon love. That this should be the object of pursuit. This he calls the more excellent way, and would lead the Lord's people to prefer it to gifts, however splendid, useful, or valuable they may be. Brethren, nothing is to be preferred to love in the church of Christ; and one of our greatest defects in the present day is the want of love. Many rest satisfied if there are no strifes, or divisions, or gross immoralities; they think the church is in a good state, though there is little or no warm-hearted, zealous, self-denying love. But this is a mistake. Let us briefly consider Paul's kind exhortation, and let us endeavour to reduce it to prac

tice.

- What are we to seek ? Love to the brethren. Love, similar to that which Jesus felt. Love, strong, active, and determined, as displayed by the apostle himself. Love to all saints for Jesus' sake, and love to all saints under all circumstances. Love to the poorest, the weakest, and the most imperfect of the Lord's family. Though they differ from us in doctrine, in discipline, in many other things, yet if they belong to Christ, we should love them. Every one should have a place in the warm affections of our hearts, if they prove that they have a place in the heart of Christ. To live in the neglect of love, is to live in sin. To be cold and indifferent toward one another, is contrary to the law of Christ. He says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” It is practically neglecting the admonition of the Holy Spirit, who says, “See that ye love one another, with a pure heart, fervently." Love adorns the christian character, silences the church's foes, makes the loving one happy, and brings honour to the Saviour's name. Vain is our profession of Christ, vain our costly alms. deeds, vain our mighty faith, vain our painful sufferings, and vain our splendid gifts, if we are destitute of holy love. Let us ponder deeply and prayerfully the testimony of the Holy Spirit, by the apostle, upon this point. Paul places himself before us with all his costly endowments, with all his wondrous works, with all his varied sufferings, and that he may impress and deeply affect our minds, he says, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling symbal; and though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing; and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.How solemn, how interesting, how affecting, is this statement! Can we wonder that he should urge his beloved friends, and while urging them, urge us, to “ follow after love"?

Love sometimes seems to take its flight from the church; it even appears to take its flight from our bosoms. We can look at persons whom we believe to be christians, and feel no love to them. Nay, at times, we have no desire to love them. We can pass them without speaking, or speak without sincere affection. This must be wrong. This never ought to be tolerated by us for one hour. We should go upon our knees, and confess it before God as a sin against the Saviour's own commandment. We should plead with God to fill our hearts with his own sweet love, to give us the Spirit of love, power, and of a sound mind. We should carry our unloving and unlovely spirits and tempers to the cross of Jesus, and seek that our old man may be crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed. We should carefully watch against what is opposed to love, realize it as a sin, and deeply deplore it before our heavenly Father's throne. We should diligently cultivate a loving spirit, remembering that it is the very image of God, and our nearest assimilation to

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »