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to the shafts of refined ridicule directed against spiritual religion. There is abroad in the highest circles of every refined society a lorty intolerance felt against all who in any measure dissent from established ideas and institutions, especially towards such as contend for a purer standard of morality. Such a spirit reigned in its utmost force in the Jewish Sanhedrim—the quintessence of intolerant fanaticism. At first this was all too much for Joseph and for his brother Nicodemus. They were both righteous and just men, who “also waited for the kingdom of God;" both were convinced that under the humble guise of the Nazarene carpenter, the Galilean peasant, shone the concealed dignity of Messiah ; and yet they cowered for a time before the savage aristocracy, and still more savage populace. “Among the chief rulers some believed on Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.”
However, honesty and goodness, when they are genuine, are always on the road of improvement. They grow bolder and bolder. Nicodemus at the first came to Jesus by night; but soon he will bring an enormous load of the most precious spices for His burial. Joseph, too, the crisis having come, goes boldly to Pilate, and asks “ for the body of Jesus." He came, therefore, to the cross in the face of gazing multitudes, and took it away, and laid it in his own new tomb, close at hand to Calvary. Thus goodness ventures out of its early twilight into the sunshine. The stronger the believer becomes in knowledge and faith, the less does he regard what the fine people, or elegant triflers, or blind bigots, will say of him. The more clearly with anointed eyes he discerns the “ things eternal” which loom in the distance beyond this world of shadows,—80 bright, so vast, so awful,—the less is he concerned to consult the opinion of the ignorant, gross, and giddy throng on the proper method of spending life, or to seek for their approbation in the course which he takes. But, oh, how much of heavenly strength and victorious conviction does it require to enable him to reach the highest degrees of that manliness which is the perfection of godliness, the valiancy for truth which nerves him to stand during life a martyr burning at the stake of public odium for fidelity to truth, and then, if necessary, “ to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Happy they of whom Christ can say even, “Thou hast a little strength, and hast not denied my name.”
Let us look in at the gate of Joseph's garden again, and say as we see him sitting in the shade near to where angels were so soon to sit, that he was, in the best sense, a wise man. At the end of his garden was his sepulchre. He kept his end in view even in his recreations. It seems as if he desired for the constant companion of his solitude, in that shade so cool beneath the burning sunbeams, the Angel of Death.
“In the air appeared a form half seen,
And indistinct and dreadful was his mien ;
Divinest beauty in that awful face."
This union of the garden and the tomb is very characteristic of the cheerful, solemn spirit of antiquity. They loved to associate the cheerful images of life with the darkness of death, and the solemnities of the invisible with the brilliant pictures of the present scene. What a world of interesting reflection comes to us now from the sepulchres of Egypt, of Etruria, of Idumea, of Nineveh, of Asia Minor, of Rome, and of Palestine. What a clinging to the sunlight and the recollections of life is manifested throughout all that subterranean necropolis of mankind. They loved the world they knew, for all was dark beyond. But in Joseph's tomb there burned a light unknown to Etrurian Lucumos or Egyptian kings," the lamp” of revelation. We can imagine him often, after pacing up and down this garden at eventide, standing at the mouth of his cave, gazing through the dark entrance, and penetrating in thought those far darker regions of the under-world whither his soul should go, and returning cheered by the blessed promises with lighter steps to the Home on Zion, without feeling that there was a great or painful contrast between the two. “I have a pleasant garden here, sweet shades, and odorous gales, but through yonder door I shall pass into a diviner paradise and behold more fragrant flowers.” “They that be wise,” saith the prophet, “shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever."
Like Joseph, let us learn to keep our end in view, even in our recreations. A life devoted to noisy amusement is an insult to God, and a violation of the great law under which humanity was created. Man was made for serious work. His moral and religious nature argues a spiritual design in his life as absolutely intended by his Maker. His chief end is to glorify God, to glorify Him by the investigation and discovery of His wondrous works, by the publication of His perfections, and obedience to His law. Until, then, the religious purpose of the mind is fixed, all outward pleasures are temptations. It is even a sin to listen to the nightingale, if the ear that listens have not first received the words of God. But when the soul has first turned toward God, and thus, with Him, become an "inhabitant of eternity," then it may be trusted with all external various delights. The
heligione e un Manting of the
sincere servant of God is the true possessor of heaven and earth. He no longer steals his happiness as if it were a forbidden thing, nor lives by snatching at a fearful joy; but opening his heart to all the blessed influences of earth and sky, he drinks in pleasure from “ the river of God, which is full of water," that flashing stream of DEITY, which rolls in eternal glory and beauty through the universe.
And for this “ blessed man” religion ceases to be a gloomy subject, like a dark, overshadowing cypress planted in the midst of jessamines and roses. It then assumes the aspect rather of a lofty elm that casts a sober but pleasant shade over the world, and furnishes support to all the vines of earthly happiness which cluster in endless festoons around it. The Bible offers no religion for those who are unwilling to acknowledge God's supremacy, and to make life eternal the end of living here. It contains no catalogue of permitted and forbidden joys, but one all-comprehending, alldirecting precept, “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy understanding,”—the true source of all real and permanent happiness. To "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God,” it simply says that this world on which they depend is destined to a speedy conflagration, themselves along with it, and then whose shall those things be which they have provided ? In the gardens of earthly amusement and recreation let us remember our tomb : for our breath is in our nostrils, and the Judge eternal standeth before the door. Once again. - How little knowest thou, O Joseph, of the wonders of which that tomb is destined to be the scene ! Among the millions of sepulchres erected or hewn out on earth, that one of thine is the chief, the one tomb towards which all nations and ages shall hereafter look without a tear. How little thought the workmen who excavated the rock, how little thought the pious owner, as he superintended the work, that that was to be the place where He was to lie, and whence He was to arise, who should thereby "abolish death, and bring life and immortality to light;" He who should be for all the earth “ The Resurrection,” having “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” How little Joseph knew that he was constantly pacing up and down the tract of ground where all the prophecies should receive their accomplishment, all the types their completion, all the aspirations of saints and angels their overflowing fulfilment in His victory over the grave; that long before the rich man entered upon the possession of it, this garden had been appropriated, by the supreme Owner of all territories, as the scene where "justification of life” should dawn upon them that "sat in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide their feet into the way of peace;" that here, from this spot, should be the starting-place for that glorious journey which redeemed Man shall take through
ats, and the low little bois destineor hewn
millions of seniof the one tomot. a tear.
eternity and infinity; that here God should be manifested in the flesh as the Almighty Conqueror of death, “the First and the Last, and the Living One, who was dead, and is alive again, alive for evermore,” alive to bestow righteousness on the vilest, and glory, honour, and immortality on the most degraded of the sons of men.
Has the “power of the Resurrection” operated upon us, carrying us along with it to heaven in spirit? Do we possess Christ's resurrection life, saying with Paul, “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" ? or is our earthly existence a living burial in flesh and sense, aimless, hopeless, godless ? If it be so, let us go to the Holy Sepulchre and give our God no rest until we have found Him who left an eternal blessing for His disciples there.
SHORT NOTICES OF BOOKS.
Home and Foreign Service; or, New Year's Gift to Children.
Pictures in Active Christian By the Author of " John HaliLife. Nisbet & Co. 1865.
fax, Gentleman." Illustrated This is an interesting tale. The
by HORATIO J. Lucas. Edincontrast between Adela, the meek burgh: Edmonston & Douglas. and loving girl, who quietly and unselfishly does the work nearest ANYTHING from Miss Mulock's her, and Eleanor, whose pride and pen is sure to be received with self-will lead her to disdain all thankfulness. The matter of this trifling duties or little sacrifices, little book has been reprinted from as beneath her dignity, is admir- the pages of Good Words and ably drawn. We are introduced Macmillan. The illustrations to them as they are about to leave are new. We heartily hope that school, the one to be a household “Meadowside House” may be treasure, the other to lose amid widely read, not only by children, the whirl of fashionable life, all but by their harder - hearted her aspirations after heroic deeds elders, who may be stirred by and noble sacrifices. By-and-by, the touching incidents and earnest after many interesting incidents in appeals to take to heart the sufferthe life of each, the school-fellows ings of the “waifs and strays," meet again under very altere 1 whose miserable dwellings lie so circumstances, and Eleanor is close to, yet so far apart from, taught to admire and to imitate our comfortable homes. In our the friend whose daily work is done author's words, we trust that as for the Master's sake. The “the public will, by many an book is calculated to do much easily spared sixpence, make this good, and is pleasantly written. New Year's Gift as valuable We can recommend it as enter as possible to the excellent Intaining and profitable reading for stitution which it is meant to our grown-up young people either assist.” for Sunday or week-day.
THERE are two inevitable consequences of the establishment of religion which neither the friends nor the enemies of the Established Church in this country are able to deny: it is compelled both to coerce and to be coerced. It is, indeed, admitted by many, that the very end of an alliance between the Church and the State is that the Church may have that power to execute her laws and administer punishments which can be given to her only by the civil authorities. The Church is the authorized teacher of the true doctrines of the Gospel. Everybody ought to know those doctrines, and everybody ought to believe them. The Church, again, is authorized to declare what those laws are which are founded upon the doctrines of the Gospel. Everybody ought to know those laws, and everybody ought to obey them. If people are ignorant, they must be taught; and if they are not willing to do their duty, they must be compelled to do it, or, at any rate, punished for not doing it. Nobody ought to be permitted to teach what is not true, and nobody ought to be suffered to follow his own inclinations, if they lead him into wickedness. Therefore the Church is established by law, and invested with a certain portion of the power of the State, în order that she may teach men the truth, and prevent everybody from teaching what is not truth, in order that she may declare the law of Christ, and punish everybody who breaks it. With
• A Collection of the Judgments of the Judicial Committee of the Priry Council in Ecclesiastical Cases, relating to Doctrine and Discipline; with a Preface by the LORD BISHOP OF LONDON. London: Murray." 1865