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“Built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ
himself being the chief corner-stone."-Eph.ii.20.
A GRATEFU-L ACKNOWLEDGMENT.
BY THE RBV. JAMES SMITH.
“The Lord helped me.”—Psalm cxviii. 13. The Psalmist had been reviewing his toils, his trials, and his dangers; he commemorates his deliverances, his conquests, and his triumphs; and he ascribes the whole to the help of God. If God had not helped him, his faith had failed, his expectations had been disappointed, and his foes had prevailed. Through the Lord he did valiently; and now, with joyful heart, he records the loving kindness of the Lord. How sweet to look back upon the rough road, the blocdy battle-field, the scenes of peculiar trial, when we have arrived at some pleasant resting-place, enjoy peace within and around us, and see our trials as past exercises. Then, if ever, gratitude will work within us, and praises will flow from our tongues and pens. Delivered from the mouth of the lion, and the paw of the bear, we thankfully acknowledge, “the Lord helped me.”
In looking back we see that we have needed help, and more help than any creature could afford us. The daily cross, the inward conflict, the domestic troubles, the perplexities of business, the state of the church, the affairs of the world, have all combined to teach us, that Divine help was necessary. If God had not helped us, we had fallen into sin, we had disgraced our profession, we had been crushed by our foes, we had fainted under our trials, or we had apostatised from the faith. God only knows what would have been the result, if we had been left to our own resources. We needed help in infancy, in youth, in manhood; we needed help in prosperity and in adversity; we needed help in temporals and in spirituals. We found our own strength to be weakness, and our own wisdom to be folly. The feeblest of our foes would have been more than a match for us, and the least corruption in our hearts would have overcome us. And we need help now as much as we ever did; for, except the Lord help us, our foes will yet triumph over us, our crosses will prove to be too much for us, and we shall faint in the day of adversity. We feel that we need help at present; we feel it in the field of labour, we feel it on the bed of sickness, we feel it in the church of God, and we feel it at the throne of grace.
The Lord has promised help. He has said, “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." And because his people feel themselves to be vile, weak, and incompetent; because their foes despise them, scoff at them, and treat them with contempt, he stoops to speak to them according to their own
views of themselves, and their enemies' representations of them, and says, “Fear not, I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument, having teeth : thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.” When the Lord helps, you see a worm can scatter mountains, and conquer the most formidable foes; and the Lord has promised thus to help the poorest, the meanest, the most despised of his people. Oh, precious promise, of a good and gracious God! It ex. tends to all times, it embraces all circumstances, it belongs to all believers, and it ensures us a triumph over all our foes. Nor is it a solitary promise, only once made, only recorded in one place in God's book. No; it is repeated again and again. When his people fancied that he had neglected them; when their hearts were rising against him, and their mouths com. plaining of him, he comes forth to correct their mistake, to still their fears, and to silence their complaints. He refers to their knowledge of his character and perfections; to his constant dealings with his people; and promises not only to help them, but to do exceeding and abundantly above all that they could ask or think. 6 Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God'? Hast thou not known ? hast thou not beard, that the everlasting God, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles ; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.” This gracious promise, in all its glorious meaning, belongs to us. Let us understand it, believe it, plead it before God's throne, and expect its fulfilment.
The Psalmist had sought help of the Lord. “In the day of my trouble, I cried unto thee.” If God has promised, we should pray. The promises tell us what God is willing to do, and to give; but God intends that we shall believe his word, and apply to him for the needed blessing. When troubles drive us to the Bible, and to the throne of grace, they do us good; they are sanctified to us. This is the effect they are intended to have. Help may be had, but help must be sought. It is sometimes the case that we have not, because we ask not, or because we ask amiss.” God is willing to help us; but he says, “ you shall feel that you cannot do without me; you shall come and ask me; you shall believe my word; you shall wait my time; and you shall receive the help you need in my way.” We do not always understand what the Lord means, or we do not cheerfully submit to God's method; and therefore we are left for a time without the needed, the desired, help. Let us endeavour to understand God's method, to approve of God's plan, to wait at God's throne, to watch in God's ways; and then, in reference to every trial, trouble, or conflict, we shall have to say, “ The Lord helped me.”
Help had been received: not once or twice, but all through the writer's pilgrimage. But there were some special seasons in which the Lord displayed his power, and manifested himself as the hearer and answerer of prayer. Just so has it been with us. We have had daily help, for we could not live the christian life without; but we have had special help in times of peculiar trouble and trial. We can look back with David to the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites to the hill Mizar. We can remember the lion, the bear, Goliath, and Saul. Times of peculiar danger were times when we received special help; and we may say, with the apostle, “ The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me, and I was delivered.” And again, “ Having obtained help of God, I continue unto this day.” Where had we been now, but for supplies of the Spirit of Christ? but for special interferences of Divine Providence ? but for the necessary communications of Divine strength ? Yes, the strength of Jesus has been perfected in our weakness; we have found his grace to be suffi. cient for us, and to the praise of his glorious grace, in reference to all our trials, troubles, and conflicts, we can say, “ The Lord helped me.”
Help is here gratefully acknowledged. The least we can do is to be grateful for the help we have received ; and yet this is the very last thing which some think of; they pray, receive, and forget to acknowledge, except stirred up by some special event. Few Ebenezers are set up by some professors of religion on the road to glory; they but seldom sing with a grateful heart, “ The Lord helped me.” Indeed, we are all defective here. Oh, that God would pour out upon all his people a spirit of gratitude, and not teach us the value of our mercies by the loss of them! The help we have received is only introductory to what our God intends to give; for his mercies are like a chain, and every link draws the next nearer to us, until we receive the crowning mercy, even life for evermore. Let us, therefore, look to the Lord as our helper; remember that he is a very present help in trouble ; and endeavour to say boldly as the apostle directs us, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” What can man do that shall harm us, if God is with us, and for us? What is the power of the mightiest mortal if matched with Omni. potence ? Oh, beloved, it is an unspeakable mercy to have God for our helper; and to be able to look back upon our past course, and trace the helping hand of God working for us, working with us, and working out our deliverances ! Let us reflect upon past help, as Paul upon past deliverances, and draw the same conclusion as he did, “ He who hath helped us in time past, who doth help us at present, in Him we trust that He will vet help us." And if we honour the Lord by trusting him, he will be sure to honour us, by helping us under all our difficulties, and out of all our troubles. So that to us may be applied the language of Moses, the man of God, respecting Israel; “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee, and shall say, 'destroy them. Israel shall then dwell in safety alone : the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and of wine; also, his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel ; who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places."
BY THE REV. DAWSON BURNS, OF SALFORD. “The greatest of these,” says the noble Paul, in speaking of the three Christian Graces—superior, as heaven to hades, to the whole bevy of Mythologic Graces imagined by the Greeks,“the greatest of these is Charity !” Not the Charity which ostentatiously draws forth a long purse filled with sovereigns, and picks out one as a contribution to a Benevolent Institution, which will duly print the donor's name in full, and give him back a tithe of the subscription in the shape of an Annual Report; nor the Charity which tosses à penny to a beggar to get rid of the annoyance; but the Charity which, after coming down from above, becomes a clear bright spring, transforming, where it goes, the desert into a garden, and feeding the life-juices of many a dear flower that else would lose its colour, droop its lovely head, and die. Charity is not any particular act or acts, for then it would be confined to a few, so situated as that they could do them: much less is it a floating feeling that rises and dissolves upon the mind, like a fleecy cloudlet on the brow of a summer's day. Charity is a principle, or sentiment, or passion, of which disinterested affection is the essential soul. There is no such phrase in her vocabulary as, “I am charitable because it is my duty.” It is thy duty, oh, man, assuredly enough! Thou mightest learn that from the inhabitants of the lair and the kraäl ! Being a duty, God has not left himself without a witness of it in thy conscience, and a judge, too, whom thou mayest deceive, but not for ever! But thou art charitable only as a duty ? Then thou hast not charity at all, nor canst thou perform thy duty.' Charity, used to the warm sunliness of heaven, will not fly into a breast like thine. It is too cold for her,-it is an ice-cage. And you would chain her by your notions of duty ? She cannot live there and thus, accustomed as she is to sit on the flaming tongues of the angel-host, and to roam at large and lose herself in the broad unfathomable heart of the Deity!
* A Micro-graph is a little sketch, as a Micro-cosm is a little world, and a Photo-graph a light-sketch, i.e., a portrait sketched by the light. The naturalization of such Greek compounds is, from time to time, enriching (?) our language,-a sufficient excuse, we hope, to obtain the indulgent reader's pardon for this addition to the tribe.
But if Charity consorts not with the man who has an eye, and a dull one, to duty alone,—the very sort of eye to miss the object of its search, she has almost as little liking for the heart that is always in a sentimental simmer, and exhausts itself in bubbling very prettily about the woes and wants of humanity. Such beings are what they were when born. They have opened their leaves as any plant could do; and if the scent be sickly sweet, and not intolerably rank, they, above all creatures, have no right to glory in themselves. They have only vegetated: they are what fortun. ate natural biases and education have made them; and men should regard them much with the same feelings as they do a kitten, which is not a tiger. But to see such innocent-hearted people anoint themselves with the oil of flattery because they are not tigers, is a comico-serious spectacle which nothing but the unalienable immortality of the self-anointers saves from becoming ridiculous altogether. Charity does not reside in doing to a nicety what we think duty requires, but neither does it consist in mere good nature, the product perchance of healthy nerves and a good digestion. Charity is disinterested affection sustained by a consciousness of rectitude. Sustained, we say, for we speak of poor frail man, and he needs such support. Sympathy we have none with the Rochefoucault coldblooded sophistry which denies disinterested affection in men ;-but full well we know, I feel it, reader, do not you ?-that being Adam's children, the love-glowing sentiment needs to be refreshed by an approv. ing conscience, else it would flag and weary, having such a heavy mass of self-love to impede and harass it. Wherever Charity dwells there must, indeed, be a consciousness of rectitude; but, perhaps, with angels and glorified souls, it is so much their nature to love, that if the moral sense gave no token of approval they would continue loving on; or, to put it more cautiously, Charity is so much a sanctified power and instinct within them, that they have not to depend, as we have, upon the aids and incite. ments which a commending conscience supplies.
We rejoice in the degree to which Charity prevails in the wide places, and nooks, and corners of our isle, and through the whole of this oceanbound sphere. Disinterested affection for mankind may not be so par
tially and scantily distributed as we are apt to fancy, judging by, the reserve men maintain towards one another, or the vile impositions which are practised on the confiding (yet does not the extent of these imposi. tions teach a cheerful as well as a gloomy tale ? are they not the chari. table who are deceived ?). But what man has perpetual equanimity? who is always the same?' and it does happen at times that Charity, with. out being turned out of doors, is put under lock and key, and the more boisterous feelings get room to puff and blow away.' This is unseemly and improper, against which a notu bene of warning should be set up; yet, the fact being as we have stated, a liberal discount should be taken from the apparent evidence for the limited prevalence of this transcendent virtue.
And wherein does christian charity differ from and excel natural charity ? In this-and we write with as much reverence as we hope the reader peruses what is written-that it has the Eternal and Infinite, who is Love, for its supreme object of exercise and desire. It sees Him in the thousand. fold reflecting mirror of nature, and it sees Him in the person of Jesus, where it beholds itself in its most divine and effulgent form;-in the form of mercy, a development of love which took the angels by surprise. Jesus it devoutly loves, and delights in Him; and the faith that is fixed upon Him, working by this love, purifies the heart. Then, having ascended, it must descend,-it cannot pass by the offspring of God. It follows the steps of the Man of Sorrows, who was also the Man of Compassions, and as it tracks Him in his pilgrimages of beneficence, going about doing good, it carries out in its own sphere that immaculate example-striving to take a perfect copy; and where there is suffering to remove, natural or moral evil to expunge, especially the ills that disease the soul, it applies itself arduously to relieve and remedy, working with anxious thoughtfulness to ascertain whether it cannot prevent; for genuine Charity invariably chooses to prevent rather than to cure. Therefore she is practical_the Queen of the Graces-Paul has crowned her so—and yet a veritable “maid of all work.” She can never doze and be a dreaming sluggard. She must be labouring, doing her “Father's business.” She is not slow or miserly in giving gold and silver and pence, or time and trouble, or clothing and bread, and dingy coals; for Charity, like light, is never sullied by what she comes in contact with,-(and coal, in these win. ter days, will look bright in the cellars and fire-grates of the poor). She is lavish of all, and niggardly of nothing, and “to do good and to communicate,” she forgets not.
Oh, how beautiful is Charity in everything and everywhere! She is “all glorious within,”-more truly glorious than an empress clothed in gold of Ophir. How attractive in the least things ! infusing more comfort into a kind word than is contained in a money-bag, and making a note of condolence esteemed of more value than a note issued from the Bank. How charming is she when employed in reasoning and discussion, in judging of the motives of others, and in expelling, with one victorious smile of hers, a horde of the imps of bigotry.
But Charity must be under the guidance of intelligence if she is ever to have her perfect work. Without knowledge and wisdom to direct her, she would, like zeal, make havoc where she ought to heal. To scatter a fire, instead of smothering it, would only extend it; and so Charity, unless. allied to Prudence, may augment instead of diminishing the evil that abounds.
A few words more, and we will lay down the pen of the scribe. We were recently witness to one of those experiments, which have been re. peated in several places, designed to test the efficiency of “Phillips' Fire Annihilator.” A small tank of tar was ignited and furiously blazed, but