Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

without rejoicing that a reply so encouraging to the heart of every believer was thus elicited, and without sincerely desiring to appropriate it to himself? Be assured, my brethren, that there are states of mind in which these incidents, which the careless reader of his Bible is apt to consider trifling and unimportant, come home with the most irresistible energy and power-times when we are unable to apprehend the blessed doctrines, or to apply the precious promises of Scripture ; but when a single brief and touching sentiment like this, will carry balm to the wounded spirit, or suggest a prayer to the prayerless heart. Often have I heard one of the most interesting writers of the present day declare, that at a period of his life, when his soul was powerfully tempted to "

deny the Lord who bought him”, and to fall back into the mazes of infidelity from which he had even then but partially escaped ; the only declaration of Scripture upon which he could find a momentary resting-place, was that which we are now considering. That during this awful and long-continued conflict in the solitude of a sick room, a prey to pain and weakness, greatly needing those consolations which the errors of a false religion, and the heartless dogmas of scepticism never could supply ; unable to close with the blessed offers of salvation through the blood of Jesus, and yet willing to cling, as with a dying hand, to his cross; the affecting exclamation which burst continually from his lips, and alone imparted even a hope of peace, was this:--"Lord, to whom shall I go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” A cry of faith, faint and imperfect indeed; so imperfect and so faint, that had man been judge, it never would have reached the mercy seat; and yet a cry which, presented by a merciful High Priest, entered into the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth, and brought “ help from the sanctuary and strength from out of Zion.”

• But, my brethren, melancholy is the state of those who leave the great question undecided till such an hour as that ; with a body weakened by suffering, and a mind impaired by disease, to have to struggle against our mighty enemy, and to seek, for the first time, a refuge from his attacks—To be asking, “ to whom shall I go?” when you ought to be saying, “ I know in whom I have believed ”; to be preparing for the conflict, when you ought to be ready to say, “ I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith”; to be putting on the helmet at the very hour when you ought rather to be looking for the crown.'

You do not know, God grant you never may know, by experience, the miseries of the chamber of sickness when unillumined by the ray of the gospel of peace; the agonies of a dying hour with the great work of salvation left undone. A God to go to, but no Father,- a Judge, but no Saviour,--an eternity opening before your eyes, but no heaven in which to spend it. Oh, to whom shall you go at that hour, if you do not now flee to the Saviour of sinners, and find pardon for your sins,

for
your
souls !”

pp. 60-67. In the fifth lecture, Peter's question, What shall be the sign of thy coming ?' is made the occasion of some admirable practical remarks on the temper in which the Christian should be awaiting the coming of his Lord.

and peace

Observe for a moment the manner in which we act under similar circumstances in the common affairs of life. The friend you most love has gone to some far distant clime, but he has promised to return; you believe his promise, the time is fixed and is unquestionably certain, but he has not mentioned to you the day. During the interval, in what manner do you conduct yourselves ? As the term of his long absence wears away, does he not engross every thought, and

occupy every feeling, and form a prominent part in every arrangement? You recollect every thing which used to afford him pleasure, and you prepare it for his reception : you remember every thing that gave him pain, and you most cautiously, most scrupulously avoid

it ; you think no sacrifice too great, no recollection too minute, if it may but enable you to minister to his delight, and to gratify him on his arrival. Your heart is so oCcupied with his promised return, that it is far less delightful to you to associate with others, than to think of and remember him. Every morning sees you at the throne of grace, praying that another sun may not set before your anticipations have been realised ; and you are not, you cannot be satisfied with any thing short of the fulfilment of this prayer. Now, my

Christian brethren, I would ask you to apply this to the state of your minds with respect to the promised returu of your

Lord. Do you know any thing of such feelings as these ?

Do you in any respect so feel, and so think, and so act with regard to his arrival ? If not, what further proof do we require, that either you do not believe him, or you do not love him, as you ought ? If you believed him, you would live as those who were expecting his coming; if you loved him, would live as those who longed for it. In every act of your life, there would be a reference to this wished-for event. In your most sorrowing hours, you would “weep as though you wept not ; and in your most joyful hours, “ rejoice as though you rejoiced not ;” in your busiest hours, you would “buy as though you possessed not,” and every day

hour would “use this world as not abusing it.” You would be careful to allow yourselves in no posture of mind, in no indulgence of tempers, in no occupations or amusements, in which you would blush to be found by your Lord.

"You acknowledge, you cannot but acknowledge, that all this is perfectly true if applied to the return of an earthly friend : what argument then will you use to prove that it does not, and ought not to be applicable to the return of that “ friend who sticketh closer than a brother?” Will you say

that you have no such love for him, who so loved you as to give himself for you; that the Bible requires no such love, that his people have never felt such love, that you cannot be expected to desire his presence with the same feelings with which you desire the presence of those you love on earth. So saying, you would only demonstrate that at least one of the signs of our Lord's return is suficiently visible—“the love of many shall wax coll.” It was not so with the holy men of old; it was not so with David, for he expressly said, “ there is none upon earth whom I desire in comparison of thee." Although the mutual love between him and Jonathan was, as he himself expresses it, “ wonderful, passing the love of women,” it was as nothing, and less than nothing in comparison of his love to

and every

you

[ocr errors]

God. In this love, be assured, every true child of God, in every age, has partaken; in this desire for the Saviour's return, his true people have in all ages united : in this anxiety to keep themselves unspotted from the world against his wished-for coming, all his redeemed servants sympathize. Try then the state of your spiritual affections by this test ; observe what would be the effect upon your heart, and mind, and expectations, if you were assured that the day of the Lord was even now about to dawn upon you. If the reply to your enquiry, “ what is the sign of thy coming ? ” were to be, “behold I come quickly," would it sound the knell of your departing pleasures, of all in which your hearts, and minds, and thoughts are now engaged? Or could you really welcome it as the fulfilment of every prayer, the completion of every hope? Could you reply from your heart "even so, come Lord Jesus,” this is the hour which I have prayed for, hoped for, lived for; even so come, come quickly."

This, and this alone, is the reply of those who with their loins gird. ed and their lamps burning are waiting for the return of their Lord. This, then, be assured, is the reply of all those who shall go in with him to the wedding, and shall sit down for ever at the marriage supper of the Lamb.'--pp. 111-116.

We can spare room for only one more extract, and we must take it from the lecture on Peter's fall and recovery.

Immediately while he yet spake,” continues St. Luke, “the cock crew.” Surely no malefactor condemned to suffer for the violated laws of his country, ever heard his last hour strike upon the prison bell with half the agony of feeling with which that cock-crowing rang upon the ears of Peter. Still was there a sight which smote far deeper than that sound : “ The Lord turned and looked upon Peter.” Who can portray the silent eloquence of that last look ? What volumes must it have spoken to the heart of the fallen apostle! Could he behold that well-known countenance, and again repeat, “I know not the man?" Could he see his divine Master “as a sheep before her shearers is dumb," and again break forth into oaths and imprecations? Could he bear the reproach of that meek eye, and yet remain in the guilty scene amidst these enemies of his Saviour and of his own soul? No! that single glance was all that was required to send home the arrow of conviction and repentance to his bosom; he instantly “remembered the word that the Lord had spoken, and he went out and wept bitterly.",

• Blessed be God, that such an act of sovereign grace and pardoning mercy has been bequeathed to us; that as we have witnessed Peter's fall, the fruit of his own presumption, we are enabled also to witness Peter's recovery, the fruit of his Saviour's love. It was that single look of his Redeemer which brought back the erring sheep to the fold of the good shepherd. Have you, my brethren, and who has not, in thought, or word, or deed, by your worldliness or pride, by your unchastity or uncharitableness, virtually denied a spiritual and humble, a pure and merciful Saviour ? Then while you receive the solemn warning, receive also the blessed encouragement of the scene before you. The Lord amidst all his sufferings took not his thoughts of mercy for a single moment from his sinning disciple. Be assured, he has not taken

on

his merciful regards from you ; he is still looking wistfully and affectionately for your return. He did not wait until Peter looked 'on him with an eye of penitence, before he looked on Peter with an eye of pity. He does not wait until you repent; he freely offers his "preventing grace" to enable you to repent. He does not content himself with calling home his wandering sheep, but he seeks those that are lost ; and when he has found them, he carries them home “ his shoulders rejoicing." Can you really believe this without saying from your heart, “ Draw me, and I will run after thee;" «Turn thou us, good Lord, and so shall we be turned.” If I address any whose heart convicts him that by life and conversation he has denied him whose name he bears, (and remember that every forbidden act is unquestionably an act of denial,) to him I would most affectionately say, let this be your immediate resource ; fix your thoughts and your heart earnestly and steadily upon your Redeemer, for he, and he alone, has both the power and the will to restore your soul, and to reconcile you to your heavenly Father. Let this be your instant, fervent prayer :

Lord, look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name. Your wanderings cannot have been too wide, your sins too heinous, your denials too repeated or too aggravated, to hinder the effect of that look of power, that look of guidance, that look of love : through the influence of divine grace, it will not only speak to your heart, but change your heart, and bring you in penitence and contrition back to the fold from which you have wandered.

• Observe, in conclusion, the immediate effects of Peter's repentance : “ he went out and wept bitterly.” He no longer remained among the enemies of his Lord; he instantly forsook a scene of so much temptation, and to him of so much sin. We are not again told that he continued “warming himself in the high priest's palace," or " waiting to see the end." That single glance of power from the eye of his Redeemer had driven Satan from his prey, and dissolved the chains which he had wound about his captive; the“ snare was broken, and he was delivered."

My beloved brethren, if you are really in earnest in your penitence, this also will be your course; you will immediately and for ever forsake those scenes, and those habits, and those companions, who have induced

you to deny your Lord; cost what it may, of ease, or pleasure, or comfort, like Peter, you will instantly go out from them ; worlds would not tempt you back to tread that path of danger from which, by the preventing grace of God, you have been so mercifully extricated. But although the first proof, this was not the only proof of Peter's penitence. He went out and wept bitterly;" not in expiation of his sin, for all the tears which sinning, suffering mortality has ever shed, are utterly unavailing to wash away the faintest trace of guilt ; he wept from very bitterness, from anguish of soul, that he had so deeply offended One so gracious and so merciful. He was assured of his fora giveness, for that look had told him that no anger lingered in that

pure and perfect bosom. But did this thought arrest his tears ? No; it was this which bade them doubly flow; he could hear his master say,

you have denied me and disgraced me; the tongue of my friend has wounded me far more deeply than all the thorns and nails of my

[ocr errors]

enemies ever can ; I freely forgive you; I have prayed for you, and this moment demonstrates that I have not prayed in vain; you have escaped the destroyer ; go and sin no more."

pp. 182—188. This is preaching which must come home to the bosoms of all, young and old, learned or illiterate, plebeian or polite. It is 'the voice of the pastor', which the sheep will hear and follow ; oratory which conceals itself in the subject, the true idiom of pulpit eloquence.

Art. VII. 1. The Keepsake, for M.DCCC.XXX. Edited by Fre

deric Mansel Reynolds. 8vo. Price £1. 18. in silk. 2. Emmanuel: a Christian Tribute of Affection and Duty; for the

Year of our Lord 1830. Edited by the Rev. William Shepherd.

pp. 340. Price 78. 6d. in silk, London. THE Keepsake is worth keeping, as in former years, only

for the sake of its plates; but these deserve for the most part high praise. The frontispiece, Lady G. A. Ellis, is a light and graceful sketch of a beautiful woman, touched by Heath in the very spirit of the original. Stephanoff's designs for Sir Walter Scott's juvenile translation of a German drama, are better than his average: they want expression, but the figure of George of Aspen is vigorously cast and well conceived. Both are well engraved. The subject from the Greek story is by no means equally good. Chalon has two drawings touched with his usual dexterity. In the subject from the Drama, the figures are excellently grouped, but the countenance of the elder female wants dignity; the drapery is rich, and the scenery well managed. Bacon has been more successful in the engraving, than in soine other instances. The Prophet of St. Pauls' has one of those characteristic female figures, in antique costume, of which Chalon is patentee. It is a pleasing picture, excellently engraved.

Turner has too brilliant views of Virginia Water-we should have preferred the Lake of Albano. Prout has contributed one of his admirable city views,-a scene in Venice. Cooper has an animated and difficult subject, a Moorish cavalier saving a female from a lion. The horse is excellent, but the king of beasts wants dignity: his hind legs remind us of a monkey's. · The Bride', from Leslie, has a plump and rather 11meaning countenance, not at all suitable for the frontispiece to a tale of woe; the portrait is, however, beautifully painted and admirably engraved. In Bonington's painting of Francis the First and his sister, we do not quite like the management of the king's figure: the attitude of the lady is novel and clever, Deveria's reposing female figure is a pleasing picture expressively engraved.

« ПредишнаНапред »