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did not produce any salutary result; nor yet did this other message, “Get thee up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of abundance of rain.” The little cloud, “like a man's hand,” expanded, till the heavens were “ black with clouds.” The still, sultry air of famine gave place to the refreshing sea-breeze, Down came the rain in rich abundance. God's paths dropt fatness. The thirsty earth drank its fill. Parched lips were wetted with the welcome water. The hearts of men once again knew the gladness of hope. And, in a little while, plenty was seen in the homes of Israel, and there was "seed for the sower, and bread for the eater.” But the goodness of God did not lead the Israelites to repentance. They had kicked against the pricks when God's judgments were abroad; and they would not serve Him when He gave them the desire of their hearts, and “fed them with the finest of the wheat." Still they thronged the house of Baal, and refused to serve the Lord God of their fathers. Failure again and again, and yet again, was the result of the efforts which were put forth to“ turn theheart of Israel back again."
This, however, is only one case of failure. It does not stand alone in the history which the Bible contains. Noah's ministry was a failure. The ministry of John the Baptist, designed to prepare the Jews to receive the Christ, did not realize its end, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not." And even the blessed Jesus Himself failed to gather the children of Jewry under His protecting wing—they “would not.” And so it has been with many workers. In the narrow and worldly sense of the word, looking at life results and present effect, failure has been the rule, success the exception.
It is not, therefore, just or wise to estimate the worth of a work or the measure of a man by what is seen of the fruit of his life and labours. "Judge nothing before the time.” “There will be a resurrection of great names,” says one. And there will also be an exposure of great shams. God and man are seldom at one in their judgments. The verdict of to-day and the verdict of the last day are not necessarily the same. They are far more likely to differ than to agree. To be a true man, the toiler must not permit the present to mould or to move him. The popular please, the great influence the people. Popularity and greatness sometimes go together, but they are oftener strangers to each other. The worker who would rise to the dignity of spiritual labour must seek to do great rather than popular things. The Apostle Paul understood this. “ With me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment : yea, I judge not mine own self.” Success and failure are inefficient and misguided rules to him who would ascertain the measure of a man or the worth of a work. You and I, reader, shall not be held responsible for what is seen of the results of our carthly toil. Noah was not excluded from the ark because he made no “additions” to the number of the faithful. Elijah was not regarded as a worthless servant because he was unsuccessful in persuading the Israelites to abandon their idolatry. John the Baptist was not the less honoured by the Christ because he failed to prepare the people to hail Him as their spiritual King. The “good and faithful servant”-nothing is said about “the popular” and “the successful”—who occupies till the Master comes, will receive the reward. This is the one and sole condition, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” But then, who knows what is failure and what success? “The day will declare it.” Not till “the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is," can the success or the failure of our lives and labours be determined. Be sure that you are doing the work of God. Do it conscientiously, faithfully, and lovingly. Put forth all your power, and embrace every opportunity to do good. Whether in the quiet of home, or in the place of business, or sitting at the desk, or in the pulpit, be the man and the servant of God, doing whatever is right and God-like, and you shall in nowise lose, though you may have to wait for, your reward. We who think ourselves to be unsuccessful, and who occasionally mourn over our apparent failure, may surely, if honest and industrious men, “comfort one another with these words."
CHURCH QUESTIONS.—No. I.
A DIALOGUE BETWEEN TWO FRIENDS. It is a strange fact, perhaps, in a Nonconformist pastor's experience, but one of my most intimate friends and constant associates is a young Churchman. I suppose that, but for our old college acquaintance, Arnold Hope and I should hardly have known each other now, for Oakworth is a place of " select circles ” and of strong prejudices. When, however, the chances of life brought us both, a year or two after leaving Dublin, to the same little town, we were not deterred by the fear of the “Bethel ” deacons on the one side, or by that of the “strictly Evangelical” curate on the other, from renewing our old intimacy. Hence it comes to pass that we two bachelors generally have a quiet cigar together on Saturday evening, when Arnold has left the countinghouse at the Brewery, and I have given the final touch to the morrow's sermons. He never, by the way, comes to hear any of these discourses. It is a crotchet of his that, as a son of the Church, he ought never" to desert her altars," as, in a high-flown mood, he once expressed it. He is fond of saying that he goes on Sundays to worship God, and not to hear the Rev. Bickersteth Ashley, “a good man, but in the pulpit rather trying.” Arnold is a decided Churchman, as my readers will see ; but I verily believe he likes me all the better for being a staunch Nonconformist.
A very few weeks since we were in the midst of one of our long chats about all kinds of things. We had ranged from the American election to Robert Browning's poems, and I had been trying to explain “Paracelsus," a work which Hope obstinately refuses to understand. Then he suddenly exclaimed, “For mercy's sake, Frere, let us get out of this !” and turning to the new number of Macmillan, which lay on the table, he added, “Have you read this letter of Maurice to a Colonial Clergyman ?"
I smiled, and restored the offending volume to its shelf—we were sitting in my study-while I suggested that the Divine might perhaps be as hard to comprehend as the Poet.
"Nonsense; you are always unfair to Maurice, you know. But, seriously, I believe that he, with a multitude of others, are just working their way to a realization of Dr. Arnold's idea of a National Church."
“ They will have some work,” I suggested ; “what with Dr. Pusey's new movement, Mr. Disraeli's speech at Oxford, and the tone of the Evangelicals generally.”
"Oh, Dizzy's speech is nothing but a pious exercise in the “ Vivian Grey" style, and dear old Dr. Pusey's scheme is just a reaction against the steadily advancing tide of public opinion-I mean the opinion of the true leaders of thought among us.”
“The opinion, you mean, of Mr. Maurice and his disciples, of the Spectator newspaper, and of the Lord High Chancellor of England.”
“That last you meant for a sly hit, Frere! But I will not object. Lord Westbury may not be a theologian, but he is an Englishman; ay, from his very position a representative Englishman. He speaks for the nation, interpreting its own law according to its own mind; and in the recent judgment—which was not his alone by the way-I read more than anything else a determination at all hazards to nationalize the Church. You smile; but every long-headed abettor of that judgment sees this in it. Here in Macmillan, for instance, Mr. Maurice puts this as the question for Anglicans : Will you be a sect? Will you give up all claims to be witnesses for the unity of the nation ? And in another part of the same paper : "The Act of Uniformity had this compensation for the many evils which flowed from it, that it asserted worship to be the bond of fellowship to a nation; whilst the Westminster Assembly had tried—with what success we know-to hold it fast by dogmas. Now here is just my ideal of our Church. Let it comprise all who can and will worship together, no matter by what dogmas they may express their intellectual belief. Let us have one great community bowing together before the Father of all, and feeling most intensely in their hours of devotion the throb of a common national life. We . must, in fact, be more than a sect among sects-must excommunicate nobody who will worship with us, and who is living a good pure life, on account of any difference of opinion; and if two neighbouring pulpits do resound with opposing doctrines—why even that will set men thinking, will keep their minds awake, and, so far, will be better than the drowsy uniformity which the lazy hearer loves :
'I thowt a said what a owt to a said, and I comed away.'” “My dear Hope,” cried I, “ do stop a minute! Verily you are mounting into the realms of the ideal. A church all worship! A church without dogma! What, then, of the Thirty-nine Articles ? What of the declaration which stands at the very threshold of your house of 'worship’-'unfeigned assent and consent to all and every thing'—and so on?”
“Well, you have me there, I confess. That declaration is a bad business. But wait until the Commission issues its report. The obnoxious words, you know, are to be dropped.”
“But there are still the Thirty-nine Articles, and the three Creeds. Are they 'worship’or 'dogma'?”
“The Apostles' Creed, neither; but fact : the Nicene Creed fact also :---the facts on which dogma is based. The Athanasian Creed, rightly understood, fact likewise—though ‘I wish the *Church were well rid of it,' I confess."
"I might ask you to distinguish ‘fact' and 'dogma,' I think, after your exposition, but I will only just ask, Are the Articles, then, 'fact,' dogma,' or'worship’?”
"You won't laugh at me if I say that I regard them chiefly as history?"
“Positively, I am afraid I shall! History of what nation or race ? Are we to read them henceforth as a chapter out of Hume and Smollett ?”
“Yes, if you like to be so absurd. You know what I mean. They register the point to which Christian thought in England had reached when the Church became truly national. I take them, first, as an announcement of deliverance from the old ecclesiastical thraldom, and, secondly, as 'articles of peace' between
the divers classes of Christian thinkers who agreed to worship together in the new freedom.”
“ Not, then, I understand, as propositions to be believed in their entireness by all the clergy ?"
"Would that, I ask you, be possible ? Could anybody expect it?”
"Possible ? no! Expect it? yes ! Read the address of James the First on the subject. It is of the nature of tyrants to expect impossibilities.”
“But nobody declares his ‘unfeigned assent' and so on, to King James's deliverances. I will take you, however, on your own ground. The Articles are of the nature of a deed.”
“That is, a kind of covenant between the nation and its clergy, prescribing the conditions on which the latter shall be accepted as the spiritual teachers and guides of the former.”
"Well, then, suppose an individual in possession of prerogatives, estates, lands—I care not what-on the ground of compliance with certain terms set forth in a deed of agreement. He must obey these conditions, of course ?”.
"Assuredly, or resign his tenure. That is just what I say in the present case.”
“You admit the analogy, then ? But supposing a dispute as to whether a particular part of the conditions has been fulfilled, who is to settle it?”
“ Why, the law, of course.”
“ Just so; now for a case in point. There is the lease of the Brewery Estate, which no man can understand. I believe that the litigation about the rights reserved,' the ways' and 'watercourses,' the 'repairs, compensations, ground rents, and manorial claims, helped to drive my poor father into his grave. Everybody read the conditions in a different way, so we went to the lawyers."
“And did they agree?”
“Not they; and it was not until a decree in Chancery reduced the chaos to something like shape that I dared take a single step for fear of breaking some covenant, or ruinously committing myself one way or another.”
“Will you explain your parable ?”
“I am just coming to that. Of course, when this decree came down all parties submitted to it, and we were all obliged to read the old lease in its light. The law had spoken, and it was no longer competent for any of the litigants to say, “This is my interpretation of that clause,' or, ‘such is my private view of the other condition. And I, for my part, could go on confidently,