Images de page

use of our property, then assuredly, we have no reason to be proud, or to appear great in our own eyes, either on account of what we possess, or of any good purposes which we may promote by it. This is the important and practical truth which is taught us in the text and context, by the language and the conduct of their royal and inspired author. He possessed much, and he did and devoted much to the service of God, and yet he takes no praise to himself-Nay, he was truly humbled, as every good man will be, in thinking that so unworthy a creature as he, should be so favoured and distinguished by a kind providence, as to be able to do the desirable service which had been performed. Contrast with this, the arrogant and impious spirit of another monarch, the proud king of Babylon; and let his awful doom prove a warning to us, not to ascribe to our own wisdom or efforts what belongs to the divine bounty—“All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. At the end of twelve months, he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spake and said is not this great Babylon which I have built? for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power and for the honour of my majesty. While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven saying-O king Nebuchadnezzar! to thee it is spoken; the kingdom is departed from thee: And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; they shall make thee eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will." Brethren, be our situation what it may, let us always remember that “pride was not made for man.”. Gratitude-the most lively and the most humble gratitude to God—is the sentiment that we ought to feel and cherish, when the divine bounty renders our worldly circumstances comfortable, or enables us to do good to others. But the moment that pride begins to swell and inflate our foolish hearts, we act the very part of a beggar, who applauds himself because he has received an alms.

2. If worldly wealth cometh of God, then he has an undoubted right both to withhold it, and to take it away, according to his sovereign pleasure. Children of poverty-God has done you no wrong, in not giving you the riches of this world. Shall he not do what he will with his own? Perhaps he has seen your present condition to be best for you.-Perhaps he keeps you poor at present, that he may bestow upon you

the true riches" in an eternal state. Let no murmuring or repining. emotions be indulged against his sovereign will: And if any to whom I speak, were once in other and better circumstances than they now are permitted to enjoy, let them remember, that what they possessed was only lent of God; and that he had a right to call and take it whenever he pleased.

" He gave, and blessed be his name,

He takes but what he gave”Think of the language of holy Job when deprived, not only of all his wealth, which had been. great indeed, but of all his friends, and his bodily health and ease—“Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord!”

3. If all that we possess comes of God, and we serve him with his own, in all the good that we do, then surely it follows, that the kindness, grace and condescension, of our heavenly Father is most conspicuous, in rewarding us for every good work, as if it had been wholly our own. In the great day of final account, Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our Judge, represents himself as conferring the heavenly inheritance, purchased by his own infinite merits, and conveyed to his people by his own infinite grace, on those who have fed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the sick, and relieved the prisoner, from a regard to him and to his commandment. Most generous master!-most condescending Redeemer!—thou givest us all the means, and all the disposition to do good that we ever possess, and then thou commendest and rewardest it, as if it had belonged wholly to ourselves. Let this be an example to those who receive the charity of others. It indeed comes from God, and to him your principal gratitude is due; but if he rewards the instruments that dispense this bounty, you certainly ought to love, and to pray for a blessing on them.

4. We learn from this subject that a truly godly person, so far as he acts agreeably to this character, does and will, consider himself in no other light than as a steward of that portion of worldly wealth, which divine providence has entrusted to him; that agreeably to this idea he is to dispose of his property, and agreeably to this idea he is to account for it at last. It is this, my brethren, which distinguishes the real practical Christian from the man of the world, in regard to worldly things. The man of the world considers them as his own,-his property-his portion: but the real Christian who views them in the light of faith, sees that they are not his own,-not his property-not his portion. The whole belongs to God, and he is only a steward, put in trust, to manage it to the best account. He serves indeed an indul. gent master, who permits him to take enough for his own comfort, and to make a suitable provision for his posterity, or dependents. But he is not at liberty to consume more than this: he is to waste nothing; he is to use no more than his comfort requires, and he is to give no more to his children than, in his best judgment, he believes will make them most useful. All the rest, be it more or less, he is to employ in serving God. This is the rule by which a Christian should walk; by which some have actually and honestly walked-And yet-tell it not in Gath—there are many worldly men who will give more—and more cheerfully—to any charitable or pious design, than some who make a high profession of Christian piety.

" That man may last, but never lives,
Who much receives but little gives;
Whom none can love, whom none can thank;
Creation's blot, creation's blank.
But he who marks, from day to day,
With generous acts his radiant way,
Treads the same path his Saviour trod,
The path to glory and to God."

DOCTRINES OF THE CROSS. We recommend the following article, from “ The Literary Review," to the careful perusal and consideration of our readers.

It is worthy of serious inquiry, whether the more interested and extended study of our doctrinal system, must not precede the hoped for advance of Christianity. It was in this way, and not by wild and impetuous efforts, that Spener and Franke sought to prepare for the reformation of which they were instrumental. And it is with the same enlightened views of the bearing of evangelical doctrine upon the kingdom of Christ, that the noble company of modern reformers in Germany, are devoting themselves so ardently to the study of all the departments of theological science.

But the knowledge of the doctrines of Christianity should not only be studiously pursued; it must be industriously circulated, by those who would hasten the coming of a better day. Indeed the substance of Christian effort must ever consist in holding forth the word of life. The existing evils in our moral and social state, can be removed in no other way, than by bringing all the orders and institutions of society under the pervading influence of the doctrines of Christianity. To this influence, mingled so early and so strongly in the forming elements of our society, is our favoured country indebted, for its moral and religious superiority to other portions of the world; but it must be greatly increased, before our land will be, what a Christian land should be. Is there not reason, however, to suspect that the movement as to doctrinal knowledge is rather retrograde than forward, in the public at large? This we know is the belief of many, whose age enables them to contrast the past with the present. The vehicles of general religious information are, indeed, greatly multiplied; but they are more occupied in conveying the news of religious operations to the Christian public, than exhibiting and enforcing the doctrines of our religion. How few of all the books and periodical publications of the day, have for their object to establish the minds of Christians in the belief of the fundamental articles of their system! How little of the instruction given to the young in families and Sabbath schools, is of a doctrinal nature! The Catechism is laid on the shelf, and covered with the dust of neglect, and its place often supplied by the religious story book. From the pulpit, too, how rarely are there now heard those clear and lucid exhibitions of scriptural doctrine, which were regarded by older divines as the best and only means of promoting a stable, enlightened and vigorous piety!—This growing tendency to omit doctrinal instruction, unless checked, must issue in a state of things sadly the reverse of the sanguine expectations we are accustomed to cherish. And parents and teachers, who now neglect to instruct those committed to their charge, in the elements of the Christian faith, ought not to wonder should they see them hereafter unstable as the shifting sands of the desert, and driven about by every wind of doctrine.

Would we guard against instability, apostacy, and fanaticism, we must guard against that ignorance of religious truth, which is the fruitful parent of these evils. Would we do any thing to realize the cherished hopes of the church, we must prepare for their accomplishment from afar, and begin the train of causes, by disseminating the knowledge of Christian doctrines. That sort of piety which is now wanted, and by whose steady energies the christianization of the world is to be accomplished, must be grounded in the convictions of the understanding, as well as fired by ardour of feeling.

There is still another duty which Christians owe to the system of revealed truth, viz. to contend for it, when it is assailed. This duty, like those already mentioned, results principally from the established connexion between the truth and the moral renovation of men. If there is any thing in the world worth contending for, it must be a system so nearly allied to the present and eternal welfare of our whole


[ocr errors]

The sublime results to which the doctrines of the gospel are conducive, enjoin an unyielding steadfastness in their defence, and condemn that false toleration by which they are often surrendered. The magnitude of the end for which the truth is revealed-the reconciliation of the world unto God, ennobles zeal for its maintenance, and advances martyrs for its cause to an equal rank with the most illustrious benefactors of mankind.

The defence of the doctrines of the gospel has, accordingly, been considered a sacred duty in every age of the church. The true hearted Christians, in the days of early persecution, loved the doctrines of Christianity too well, and knew too well their efficacy, to yield them up without a contest. Standing firm upon their inmost convictions of truth, they could be moved neither by the allurements or menaces of worldly power. Could they have listened to the dictates of worldly policy, and silently acquiesced in the perversion of the doctrines of Christianity, they would have looked upon themselves as traitors to the cause of God on earth.

How much is the church of later and more peaceful days indebted to the noble intrepidity, the holy fortitude and firmness, of these early defenders of its faith! Had Athanasius or Augustine, not to mention others, quietly surrendered the vital doctrines for which they contended, the Christian world might, to this day, have been overspread with the disastrous shadow of Arian or Pelagian heresy!

There are many who seem to suppose, that there is no longer any occasion for that vigilant and jealous defence of the doctrines of the gospel, which was formerly necessary—that these doctrines have become sufficiently established by the efforts of our predecessors, and that our whole duty lies in making them known through the earth. But this opinion overlooks the fact, that most errors in religion have their root in the depravity of human nature; and though they may be suppressed at one time, they will again spring up, as long as the quality of their native soil is unaltered. It proceeds, too, on a mistaken view of the appointed lot of the church on earth. “It is but ignorance,” says that great philosopher whom we have before quoted, “ if any man find it strange, that the state of religion, especially in days of peace, should be exercised and troubled with controversies: for as it is the condition of the church militant to be ever under trials, so it cometh to pass, that when the fiery trial of persecution ceaseth, there succeedeth another trial, which as it were by contrary blasts of doctrine, doth sift and winnow men's faith, and proveth whether they know God aright."

Happy, indeed, would it be for us, if we could believe that these contrary blasts of doctrines,” had spent their force, and would never again sweep over the church. But one must be very unobservant, who does not see, that there are tendencies of theological sentiment at the present time, which threaten, in their full development, the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. If this be really so, how false and dangerous is that security respecting the doctrines of Christianity, into which so many are lulled by the present outward prosperity and the opening prospects of the church! Should the church of this day, flushed by its recent victories, become negligent of its own defence, and leaving the palladium of its safety unprotected, send forth its sacramental hosts for distant conquests, it could not be long before its triumphant legions must be called back, to recapture their own walls and bulwarks from their insidious foe.

[ocr errors]

Besides the dangerous tendencies of theological sentiment to which allusion has bcen made, there are other dispositions infused by the spirit of the times, which are peculiarly adverse to religious truth, and which demand peculiar watchfulness in guarding its interests. That impatience of the restraints of authority—that irreverent contempt of ancient opinions and usages that restless spirit of innovation--that all-pervading rationalism, which will receive no mysteries unexplained, and thinks to fathom and comprehend even the deep things of God; these, and other congenial dispositions, which so strongly characterize the present times, are most unfriendly to the pure belief of a system of truth, authoritative in its very nature, as revealed from God, venerable in its aspect, as handed down through a long tradition, and humbling to the pride, and far above the measure of reason, in the sacred mysteries which it contains.

HYMNS FROM THE GERMAN. A correspondent has obliged us with a metrical translation of a number of German Lutheran and Moravian Hymns, of which the following are specimens.



But my hope is now in Thee; The Lord my God has hithorto

Second Adam, change thou me. In perfect safety led me;

Second Adam, born on earth, Watch'd over me my whole life through; That my soul, with sin polluted, Shelter'd, and cloth'd, and fed me:

By a new and better birth, Has sbielded hitherto my head,

With thy holiness recruited, Has held me up, and comforted:

Might become a little child, Thus far my God has help'd me.

Holy, harmless,' undefiled. Therefore I glory in the Lord,

Even so, Lord Christ, Amen! Therefore my soul rejoices:

Let me take on me Thy nature, Oh that to sound His praise abroad

As thou tookest mine, and then I had a thousand voices!

Be renewed in every feature, I write it on my memory,

In the likeness of thy face, The Lord has done great things for me, Line for line, and grace for graco.

The Lord of hosts has help'd me. O Gud, henceforth, as hitherto,

Jesus! Master! we are hero, Be Thou my strong salvation!

To thy Word and Thee to hearken: For Jesus' sake my whole lifo through

Thou must make our spirits clear, Grant me the Consolation!

Which the mists of sin bedarken;
Ob help me still, while I have breath,

Let thy word, in season spoken,
Flelp me in life, and in my death
As thou thus far hast help'd me!

Be to us of good the token.

Thou must lift our souls on high,

Even to thy holy heaven; Son of God, all hail to Thee!

Thou must cleanse and purify Hail to Thee, thou Son of Mary!

From the old malicious leaven; Thou art born to ransom me,

Thou must kindle our devotions,
Thou art come my sins to carry!

Filling us with holy motions !
Save me from th’avenging rod,
O my Brother and my God!

Jesus, thou must call us; Thou

From their sleep the dead awaken; Adam's fall my soul bereav'd

Yea! in every bosom now of a holy, heavenly nature;

Let the powers of hell be shaken! Born in sin, in sin conceiv'd,

Mako us willing in the hour I'm a fallen guilty creature:

Of thy love and of thy power!

Ch. Observer. Ch. Adv.Vol. XII.

2 X


« PrécédentContinuer »