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activity. But mere worldly success is a poor measure of these things, and ought never to be allowed to secure to any, voice and direction in church affairs. “It appertains not to these to burn incense unto the Lord.” State-craft and policy have no claim to spiritual direction. The Spirit of the Gospel is not that of the successful worldling, but that of the little child of the kingdom. God does curse with weakness and trembling with spiritual deadness, with feebleness of Christian emotion and decay of piety, those churches which are not careful to appoint to the direction of their affairs only men whose hearts He Himself hath touched.
“But the punishment of Uzziah,” one may ask, “is not that simply Jewish, quite foreign to our life to-day? If there is something like his arrogant impiety in the conduct of men, who, simply because they have prospered in their temporal affairs, would eke out Christ's Gospel by worldly maxims, what is there among us at all like the smiting of the king with leprosy in the house of the Lord ? Does God visit men with judgments now? is there anything here for Englishmen?" Let us see; it may appear that God is judging us; the same God who judged His people of old ; there may be something in this very part of the narrative to set us thinking on the mysteries of our daily life, and to help in their interpretation.
Suppose, now, a physician had given us a purely medical report of this incident; suppose he had told us that there was in Uzziah an unsuspected taint of leprosy; a taint which, if he had been careful of himself, especially avoiding strong passionate excitements, might never have developed into actual symptoms of disease; that Uzziah, distracted by contending emotions, excited with pride, haunted by the terrors of a conscience trained under Jewish influences, unable to shake off the fear of Divine anger for his presumption, yet urged on by ambition, had gone into the Temple of the Lord ; that there, while he was engaged in stormy conflict with the priests, the hidden taint had developed itself, and the leprosy had leapt out upon his brow—should we not at once understand the story ? recognize a very common fact in the history of disease ? A brand may lie concealed—a birth-mark or an old scar-during the greater part of a man's life, becoming visible at times of strong excitement. Old wounds, quiet for the most part, will throb under the influence of passion. Hereditary or constitutional disease may often lurk for a life-time unsuspected, till some circumstance favours its development, and instantaneously it works itself out in all its power. Of all such favouring circumstances, strong passionate excitement is the surest; in the heat of pride the seeds of sickness are frequently quickened.
No stories are more impressive or more common than those of men suddenly stricken down on the eve of the gratification of their pride, in the first thrill of triumph, in the very fever of unbridled ambition. A man has been all his life-time amassing wealth ; satisfied at length, he builds himself a lordly mansion, that he may rank with the nobles of the land. He builds, but he never enjoys it:-he is found some morning smitten with impotence; and the palsied speech-muscles refuse to articulate a word. A statesman is summoned to the royal presence-chamber: at the council-table, the blood-stain at his lips declares that honours and life will soon be laid together in the dust. A student is called to preside over some learned body: his brain gives way, and the asylum is henceforth his home. A Jewish story this—foreign to the life of to-day? Instead of leprosy, read paralysis or hæmorrhage, or softening of the brain; and it is just a narrative from our daily press. For one who “comes to his grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season,” hundreds are swept away by pride or passion, in the conflict and the triumph of life. Say what we will, this is true, that pride and passion, unregulated ambition, and impious recklessness, do terribly punish those whom they enslave.
The Jewish story interprets the English life. If Englishmen trace these things to natural causes and go no further, while the Jew says “God has smitten him," the Jew is right and the Englishman is wrong. It is a sign of unbelief and folly to refuse to trace God's hand, save in events that are utterly unintelligible. God's great work is to reveal, not to hide Himself, It is part of His order of nature that bodily pains should often reveal and rebuke the workings of an ungodly soul. No Jew would ever have thought it out of place to speak of God's hand in an event, simply because the natural causes might in part be traced. The Jewish history is God's revelation of Himself in all history ; so that men may say, “Verily, He is a God that judgeth in the earth."
The hour of pride is often, too, an hour of terrible revelation of hidden spiritual taints ; secret sins leap to light in the heats of unbridled passion. Men flatter themselves that God has made them to prosper because they sought Him. Their seeking of Him becomes a tradition of the past, a memory; they think they have overcome their temptations, laid aside their easily besetting sin; and, even while they boast, they fall before God and men. They thank God they are not as other men ; suddenly they have to change their boasting, they know themselves the chief of sinners. They could not do a mean thing, could not withdraw their hearts from the noble and the good, and
decline to the ungodly, the impure, the base. Allured by ambition, they do even this. They find in themselves not only the seeds, but the power of vices which they have most loudly, most bitterly, condemned in others. Prosperity and pride are terrible revealers of men ; rather God in them often judges men, that they may know themselves.
Hope concerning Uzziah is given in the record of his hasting to go out of the Temple. His proud heart was broken ; he was smitten with shame. There needed not “the priests, the valiant men,” to thrust him out; “ Yea, himself also hasted to go out, because the Lord had smitten him.” It may have been mere terror that drove him forth, the force of circumstances, and not a convicted, penitent heart. His self-abasement may have been as godless as was his exaltation. It may have been so;—but it may have been far otherwise. Assuredly God intended it to be otherwise. A man is not altogether lost while he can feel shame. God quickens the “sorrow of the world which worketh death," into “godly sorrow working repentance not to be repented of."
Of the seven years that he spent in the “ several house" we know nothing; of this we may be sure, that during all those years, God was seeking to restore and save his soul. What the “several" house was is doubtful. Some take it to have been a leper hospital ; others a separate house, a “free" house, as the margin reads, a house into which God manumitted him from the kingly office, liberating him from the cares and responsibilities of the throne. But whether he dwelt among sufferers, shameful men like himself, or quite alone, there was opportunity for him to offer himself in life-long penitence to God. He was debarred from the Temple; he could never cross its threshold more. But God dwells in the hospital and the solitary place. He was cast on God whose care are all the wretched; he had but to cast himself on God and be forgiven and restored. The leprosy might cling to him ; never more could he be king, but in the fellowship of the suffering was an opportunity of rendering true service. In solitude, while his son was over his kingdom, and regents were doing the work God had taken from his hands, he might have learnt many a lesson he had not learnt upon the throne.
The king who aspired to an honour God had not called him to, deprived of the very service to which God had appointed him, sinking at last into a dishonoured grave, buried in the field without his fathers' resting-place, and not in the tomb itself :-these are touching aspects of the story, of universal human interest. The dignity and service forfeited through pride may be never regained. A stain may cling to the name;
tary place. more. But Gothe Temple
the reputation long held honourable, and lost through a shamefyl fall, may not even after death be recovered. Sons may blush more over the dishonourable grave and the one terrible sin of their fathers than they triumph in the glory of a whole life. Impiety is a fearful thing, and has a fearful curse. But no curse is final; the shame that is felt may be washed away. God's judginents are for mercy's sake; he humbles that he may lift up. A world in which God's judgments are abroad is an awful world : but infinitely horrible would be a world in which He did not judge.
YOUNG NONCONFORMITY—ITS DUTIES AND
ARE the British youth of the present day inferior, morally and politically, to the youth of half-a-century ago ? Is “culture" being promoted at the expense of conscience-slang taking the place of sense; indifferentism and cynicism of youthful ardour ? Are juvenile snobs and incipient Sadducees more numerous than nascent reformers and budding patriots ? Or, to bring our interrogatories a point nearer home, do our hopes or fears predominate, as we scrutinize the ranks of Nonconformity, and watch the development of the young men and women in whom are centred, not merely our personal affections and anticipations, but our aspirations in regard to the organizations and the principles by which our own energies have been elicited, and our own lives have been largely influenced ? Do our most educated, and, in some respects, most influential, sons and daughters display an increasing tendency to float with the stream of worldliness and fashion, which carries them away from the principles and practices of their fathers, and makes them the victims of loose theologians, or the tools of reactionary politicians ? Will the demands of the pulpit, of the diaconate, of the Sundayschool, and of the Committee be met as they should be met, in an age in which Christian work calls for increasing force and increasing wisdom? Or are the old traditions, involving personal service and self-sacrificing devotedness, so modified as to suggest the arrival of a time when hard-working Christians in
the higher social ranks will be regarded as estimable eccentricities, and broad-cloth and silk will give to our religious insti-, tutions the benefit of their money and their prayers, but devolve on fustian and cotton print the sweat and agony of individual solicitude and effort for the salvation of human souls ?
We put these questions suggestively, and without proposing to answer them, otherwise than by expressing apprehension as to the replies which a careful inquiry would elicit. Let us, however, add the opinion, that the result would be very much determined by the area of the investigation, and by the social position of those who might be the subject of it. Thus we suspect that it is in the large towns that the process of deterioration goes on. most conspicuously; its most advanced stage being reached among the suburban villa population, and more especially that of the metropolis. It is among the commercial, rather than the artizan class, that these signs of moral decadence are to be found, and, as a general rule, it is to material prosperity that they are chiefly traceable.
A distinction has to be drawn between zeal for Nonconformist principles and zeal in Nonconformist work; for it is notorious that many of those who are heartily engaged in the latter are but ill-informed, or indifferent, in regard to the former. The advocacy of what are known as “our distinctive principles," has, except on rare occasions, been a speciality-the chosen office of a few, who have practically been both the representatives and the guides of the many. And even the number of such champions, and the extent and effectiveness of their labours have, to a great extent, been dependent on special circumstances; which kindled latent fire in the breasts of passive Nonconformists, or decided the bent of young minds, and disciplined them for the army fighting under the banner of Him whose kingdom is not of this world. We owe to the repressive acts, and the legislative blunders, of Toryism, and Statechurchism much of the bone and muscle of Nonconformity, which has seen its heroes spring up from the dragon's teeth sown by its bitterest foes. There are men now occupying conspicuous positions in the ranks of Voluntaryism, whose training school for public life was the agitation to which, first, the Factories' Education Bill, and then the Minutes of Council, gave rise. The (apparent) accidents of history also sensibly affect the momentum and direction of Nonconformist propagandaism-as witness the Voluntary controversy in Scotland, with the reflex influence which it has exerted on Voluntaryism this side the Tweed. And lastly—and this is a modern phase of aggressive Nonconformity—a wise use of passing times and events becomes instrumental in quickening the energies, and in