« VorigeDoorgaan »
doxy of creed, nor regularity of conduct, nor activity of zeal, but a new nature : that the heart is the seat of vital, operative Christianity —of that faith which worketh by love; since it is with the heart that man believeth unto righteousness: that“ the kingdom of God is not meat and drink"-is nothing external—“ but is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost :” that it is a Divine life-even the life of God in the soul : that it is Christ formed in us, the hope of glory; ruling, by love, over subdued tempers and sanctified affections: and transcribing into our hearts His own Image, grace for grace : and that therefore the great business of each is, often to retire from the bustle, even of religious activities, and to subside into his own bosom : then, calmly and seriously to consider what that is in which the essence of Christianity consists; and calmly and seriously to ask himself, and to ask of God to assist him in the scrutiny, Do I possess this?
If conscience testifies that you do possess it ; if the Spirit which cries Abba, Father, witnesses with your spirit that you are a child of God; whatever
be your outward circumstances, happy are you. The Spirit of grace and of glory resteth upon you; of righteousness, grace, and peace, even now, amid the temptations and sorrows of this troublesome world: of glory, honour, and immortality, when time shall be no more. O keep, as the apple of your eye, from every injurious and defiling contact, this secret deposit : this infusion of the Divine nature. Hold fast that which you have attained. But stop not here. Press onwards to perfection. Press towards the mark for the prize of your high calling. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Seek a more filial and familiar intercourse with your Heavenly Father in prayer : a more copious influx of the Spirit of holiness; a more perfect assimilation of soul to God. Covet earnestly the best gifts, and the best graces. Desire, pray, and strive, that an entrance may may ministered to you more abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of your Lord and Saviour: that you may know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, and be filled with all the fulness of God.
If conscience testifies that you do not possess this, may that Spirit which alone can convince of sin, effectually convince you of your danger. Awake from this deadly sleep, and call upon your God. The vessel which floats you above the waves of a bottomless eternity is going down : your frail body is daily dying: this night thy soul may be required of thee. The world which you inhabit is running with you this race of death : it is worn out with age : it is unsound at the heart's core. Its intellectual ripeness, and moral rottenness, are silently spreading around a blighting pestilence, which is feeding upon the very vitals of social order: or they are bursting forth in the convulsive throes of volcanic explosion, which displace and shatter the very foundations of society. Now, anarchy is the only true liberty : infidelity the only true wisdom : wealth, and station, and luxury, the only ingredients of true happiness : violence or expediency the only law: opinion the only God. The world is ripe for vengeance : its iniquity is now full. The Church too (riding upon this turbulent sea, persecuted without, distracted within, ungoverned, and unpiloted,) prays every where that Christ himself would take the helm, now vacant or misdirected : would put down all usurped and abused rule,
and authority, and power; and would take unto Him his great power, and reign the only Potentate. Come, Lord Jesus ; come quickly," is the voice of every child of God in these perilous and portentous days. And every portent seems to answer in the ear of faith, “ Surely I come quickly." These signs of the times, distinctly foretold, and palpably fulfilled, can scarcely be misunderstood. They seem the first cracklings of that flame in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat: the earth also, and all the works that are therein, shall be burned up. They seem the first soundings of “the voice of the Archangel, and of the trump of God,” which precedes and announces the Redeemer's advent; and whose full blast shall wake the dead, and summon the nations to judgment. Every symptom of infirmity and decay within you ; every symptom of disorder and convulsion without you, are combining to give utterance to that great and midnight cry, which will alarm a sleeping world as a thief in the night, « Behold the Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him.” If then you are not already washed, justified, and sanctified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God: if you are not already clothed in the wedding garment of the Redeemer's righteousness, and in that fine linen which is the inherent righteousness of the saints; to-day, while it is yet called to-day, harden not your hearts. The night cometh when no man can work. The voice will shortly be uttered, Ye shall not enter into my rest. Accept the mercies freely offered to you, without money and without price. Cast down the weapons of your unnatural enmity against the blessed God, your best Benefactor. Prostrate yourself in penitence before the Throne of grace. Prefer no place but this, Christ died for the ungodly: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. View Him lifted up upon the cross. Behold His dying love, and trust in Him. And though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Then, ask of Him what you will, and it shall be done unto you. Ask for the Spirit of holiness : for the life of love : for the law written on your heart : for the whole mind of Christ : for the mutual indwelling of God in you, and you in God. Only ask in faith, nothing wavering in your desire to obtain your petition, and it shall be given you. Whatsoever you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive. For then the Spirit itself maketh intercession for you : then it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
J. M. H.
COURT CIRCULAR RELIGIOUS ANNOUNCEMENTS.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. It is disgusting to the mind of every Christian--and having said that, I need not add, of every true Anglican churchman-to observe the phraseology of the customary announcements respecting the attendance of royal personages at divine worship. One would think they did the Almighty great honour by prostrating themselves in His courts; and that the worship was merely a spectacle, got up for their amusement. The clergyman is made to “perform the service before them ;” and this only as subordinate to the musical part of the entertainment. The illustrious persons whose names are thus introduced as patronising the worship of God, are not answerable for the improper manner in which their attendance is noticed; they may be bowing down in the depths of self-abasement, while the flattering scribblers are concocting their panegyrics. Let the blame fall where it is due. George III. is said to have crossed out his titles in one of the prayers in his church prayer-book, and to have written “ a mise. rable sinner."
The Court Circular style spreads to the country; where it is often outdone in absurdity. I was reminded of the subject by reading that, “On Tuesday, intimation was conveyed to the Hon. and Rev. the Dean of Lichfield, that the Queen Dowager would honour the cathedral with her presence on the lollowing day.” “ The Dean himself took the reading desk on the occasion, and the service commenced, &c. &c." Now I do not believe that the Dean received any such“ intimation.” The announcement probably was that her Majesty would attend at divine service, and would wish also to see the cathedral ; and the phrase of " honouring " was supplied by the ignorant writer, who is perhaps some kin to the country parish clerk who was said to have given out a psalm“ in honour of the Lord Bishop." I entertain the highest veneration for that much-esteemed lady, the Queen Dowager ; but even the humblest village church is not “ honoured' by the presence of the most exalted earthly personage. The presence of a higher than the highest of created monarchs is there spiritually manifested; and it were profanation to think of man's dignity, when prostrate before the King of kings and Lord of lords.
It may be thought that I have troubled your readers with a matter of no great moment; but it cannot be that such language can be current from day to day, and week to week, in our newspapers, the books of the people, without having an evil effect. The public learn to consider sacred worship as a sort of national custom ; a decent respect to the Almighty ; a ceremonial parochial muster-roll; and the church a place to see and be seen; instead of the “ house of God and the gate of heaven." I beg to subscribe myself,
P. S. The very first newspaper I took up, after writing the preceding, had the following announcement of the Queen's attendance at St. George's chapel, Windsor. In the royal closet the ladies and gentlemen of the royal household in waiting were in attendance upon her Majesty.” Her Majesty ought to have all dutiful, honorary, and respectful attention; but to describe her whole suite in the house of God as being “ in attendance" upon her, so as not to be able to "attend" to the worship of God, is preposterous. During divine worship, her Majesty could want no actual service which would prevent her surrounding household uniting with her in the sacred business of the hour. Nor do I mean that any was required or rendered; all might be worshipping together : I speak only of the popular phraseology.
SIR H. WOTTON'S RELIQUIAE.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. The subjoined extracts are taken from the “ Reliquiæ Wottoniana" of Sir Henry Wotton, Provost of Eton College, the papers in which I am not aware have ever been reprinted, either singly or collectively. The edition from which I have transcribed them is that of 1651. They may be no inappropriate addition to your religious miscellany, at the commencement of the ensuing new year. Honest Isaac Walton's life of this truly great man and elegant scholar is well known, and therefore needs not be touched upon by me.
A selection from his poetry, of considerable merit, has been made by Mr. Montgomery of Sheffield. The two following pieces are complete in themselves, as they appear in the original work. The first is a meditation upon the 22nd chapter of Genesis, and is descriptive of the struggle between grace and nature in the breast of the patriarch Abraham, when he received the command of God to slay his son. He is represented as bursting forth into a soliloquy upon the occasion of this event.
Meditation upon Genesis xxii. "What, could this possibly be the voice of God which I heard, or bave not ratber some strange impressions of the night deluded my fancy? Yea, thy voice it was, my God; it was thy voice. How can thy humble servant deuy it, with wbom, seven times before, descending from the throne of thy glory, thou hast vouchsafed even to commune in this vale of tears ? When thou didst first call me out of tbe darkness of my father's bouse into thy saving light; when thou didst often cherish and encourage me in the steps of my pilgrimage; when thou didst furnish me with plenty, and crown me with victory, in a strange land; when, lastly, thou didst even overlade my feeble age with joy in a rightful heir of my own body, was I forward at all these times to acknowledge thee the God of my support and comfort? And shall I now question thy voice, when thou dernandest but a part of thine own benefits? No, my dear Isaac, although the heavens know how much I love thee, yet if thou wert, or couldst be, millions of times more precious in the eyes of thy trembling father, I would summon together all the strength of my aged limbs, to render thee unto that gracious God from whom I had thee. Alas! poor boy, how sweetly thou slumberest, and in thy harmless bed dost little think what change is towards thee. But I must disturb thy rest. Isaac, arise, and call up thy servants. Bid them prepare for a journey which we are to make unto the Mount Moriah, and let some wood be carried for the burning of a sacrifice. Meanwhile I will walk out a little by myself to contemplate the declining stars, and the approach of the morning. O ye ornaments of the sky, who, when all the world is silent, obey, your Maker in the determinate order of your motions. Can a man behold his own duty in a fairer volume? Why then stand I gazing here, and do not rather go myself to basten my servants that I may execute his will ? But stay; his will ? Is his will contrary to the example of his own justice? Did he not heavily punish Cain, even at the beginning of the first world, for killing but a brother; and can I slay my child, and imbrue my hands in mine own bowels, without offence of his immortal majesty? Yes; why not? The act of Cain was the act of his own sinful malice, but I have received an immediate command from God himself-a command, why? Is his command against his law? Shall the fountain of all truth be served with contradictions ? Did not the same God, straight after the universal deluge (as our fathers have told us), denounce this judgment, that, whosoever sheddeth man's blood, his blood shall be shed? How then can I herein obey my God, but I must withal disobey him ? O my soul, what poor arguments dost thou secret to cover thine own rebellious affections! Is there any warrant higher than his will, or any better interpreter of his will than himself? If the princes of the earth, who are but mortal types of his invisible glory, can alter their edicts at pleasure, shall. not the Lord of the whole, whom anges and men adore, have leave to dispense with his own prohibitions? Yes, surely; but then, how shall Christ. OBSERV. No. 25.
the blessing that my good God hath determined upon my seed, and even upon this very child, be accomplished, if I destroy the root ? O Lord, was not thy Divine goodness pleased, in the depth of thy mercy, to accept my belief for righteousness; and shall I now frustrate thy promises by my obedience? But what, am I fallen again into a new reluctation? Have I before contended with thy justice, and shall I now dispute with thy power? Didst thou not create the light before the sun, and the effect before the cause, and shall I bind thee to the passions of a natural agent? Didst thou not make this all of nothing, even by thy word, which was thy wisdom ; and formest all that thou hast made by thy Spirit, which is thy love ? And shall I doubt but thou canst raise innumerable nations out of the very ashes of my poor Isaac ? Nay, did I not even at first receive him in a manner from a dead womb, and art not thou still the same almighty and ever-living God, merciful Father, full of all tenderness and compassion, that seest from heaven whereof we are made ? Pardon my discourses, and forgive my delays. I am now going to perform thy good pleasure. And yet there is remaining one humble suit, which refuse not, o my God, though it proceed from the weakness of thy unworthy creature. Take my child, and all that is mine. I have resigned bim with my whole heart, unto thy will. He is already thine, and mine no longer; and I glory that he shall die upon thy holy altar. But yet I fear withal that these my sbaking hands and fainting limbs will be seized with horror. Be not therefore, dear Lord, displeased, if I use my servants in the execution. How now, my soul, dost thou shrink in the last act of thy Ioyalty? Can I yet walk up and down about vile and ordinary functions, and when my God is to be served, do my joints and members fail me? Have I humbled
desires to his will, and shall I deny him the choice of his own instrument; or if his indulgent mercy should permit it, shall I suffer another to anticipate the cheerfulness of my 'obedience? O thou great God of life and death, who mightest have made me an insensible plant, a dead stone, or a poisonous serpent, and yet even in that likewise I should have conduced to the variety of thy glorious wisdom ; but hast vouchsafed to endue us with the form of a man, and didst breathe into our first parent that spark of thy Divine light which we call reason, to comprehend and acknowledge there with thy high and indisputable sovereignty over all nature. Thou then, eternal Maker and Mover, whose will is the first of canses, and whose glory is the last of ends, direct my feet to the place which thou hast appointed, strengthen thou these poor hands to accomplish thy pleasure, and let heaven and earth obey thee.”
Meditation upon Christmas Day. “O glorious morning, wherein was born the expectation of nations, and wherein the long inspired Redeemer of the world did (as his prophets had cried) rend the heavens, and come down in the vesture of humanity. Thou that by the virtue of the highest, wert conceived in the womb of an inviolate virgin, of all women the most blessed, and yet more blessed, by being thy daughter, and thy servant, than thy mother. Thou, at whose birth the quire of beaven did sing hallelujahs, and angels made haste to acquaint even shepherds with the news. Stay, my soul, before I go further, and crave leave of my Lord to ask some questions. Why would'st thou be first made known to the meanest condition of men ? Why were they sent to see their Saviour, not in some gorgeous palace, but in the vilest room of a common inn, and instead of a cradle decked with rich embroideries. lying in a despicable manger ? Why didst thou not choose for the place of thy mother's delivery either Athens the learned, or Rome the imperial, or Jerusalem the holy city? Or since poor Bethlehem, by thy propbet's prediction, must receive that honour, why didst thou not send millions of Cherubims and Seraphims before thee for thy barbingers ? No, my God, it was thy will, it was thy will, which is the highest reason, by thy low beginning in the flesh, to confound all pride, and to teach the glories of the earth to blush. Yet thus born, and thus homely received, behold a new star descending to illustrate thy obscurity, and to conduct the wise men of the East, now wise indeed, with their choicest presents, to adore thee. O strange phenomenon. Did ever Hipparchus, or the great Trismegist,' or the
Hipparchus was a celebrated mathematician and astronomer of Nicua in Bithynia. He made the discovery that 186 days intervene between the vernal and autumnal equinox, being
7 days more than between the autumnal and the vernal, from the earth's eccentric orbit. He divided the heavens into 49 constellations, 12 in the ecliptic, 21 in he northern, and 16 in the