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THE OLD CHURCH CLOCK.
( Continued from vol. 1, page 361.)
Even such a man (inheriting the zeal
“My brethren, said the priest, resting his hand on the Bible, and looking round upon the anxious audience with an expression which showed some degree of agitation of mind, mixed with his habitual calmness and self-possesion,
My dear brethren, I am about to do what is quite unusual, and, I fear, wrong in me; — I am about to address you in language which I have not first carefully considered, and, word for word, committed to paper. Though I have preached the blessed Gospel of our LORD to you and
your fathers, from this place, for the long period of fifty years, I have never ventured to do this before. I have had too much fear both for myself and you — too much anxiety CHRISTIAN MAGAZINE, No. XVII.
that not a word should drop from me which was not agreeable to the language and spirit of the Gospel, to trust myself to unarranged thoughts, and unconsidered words. But fifty years have given confidence to my mind, that nothing which is not of God can slip from me in this house, even in the warmth and heat of a moment like this; and thoughts arise now in my mind which seem fitted for the occasion, and yet which had not occurred to me in the silent meditation of my closet. And surely I have experienced too long the full enjoyment of that holy truth that “God is love," to shrink from speaking of it, (and especially before you, my children,) without shame, and without fear! I call you my children; for many as are the grey heads that I now see before me, there is hardly one who has been born again into the blessed kingdom of our LORD without the ministration of these hands, unworthy as indeed they are to be made the instruments of so divine a thing! There is one, indeed, now present, here his eye naturally turned to the seat almost close beside him, in which sat the venerable partner of his joys and cares, (sorrows, I believe, in the worldly sense, he was too good a man to have any,) in her little black silk quaker-like bonnet, and neat white cap; retaining on her cheeks much of the bloom and some of the beauty which had made her, between sixty and seventy years ago, the admiration of the parish :— There is one, indeed,' he repeated; his voice faltered, and it was clear that he would have some difficulty in proceeding with his discourse : and here it was beautiful to observe what happened. The old lady, seeing how matters stood, looked up to him from under her bonnet with a quiet smile, conveying at once an expression of kind encouragement and gentle rebuke, which is quite indescribable. The effect was immediate. A slight flush of shame crossed the old man's brow, and he at once resumed his wonted composure. something in that smile which had reminded him of the days of their youth - when she was the buxom maiden and he the gallant lover — and he doubtless felt some shame that he should not show himself at least as firm and
as youthful as his dame; and so his face naturally took up an expression in quiet harmony with hers, and he became at once himself again. Sir, it was beautiful! I would not have missed observing it for the world. Doubtless, these were mere human feelings intruding themselves into the house of God, but I cannot believe they were sinful. It was like a gleam of earthly sunshine streaming through the painted windows of the chancel of a cathedral, glancing upon, and not polluting, the holy pavement of the sanctuary !"— The old man paused as if pleased with his own thoughts, and then proceeded with his recollections of the sermon. " • You,' said the preacher, “have been
scholars, and sometimes, I confess, my teachers, for many a year; for while you have learnt from me the truths of the Gospel, I have often drawn from you - your patience, your cheerfulness, your submission to the will of God — - a lesson as to the right way of putting the Gospel into practice. Much, too, have I learnt from your sins, your negligences, and ignorances. But all combines, — strength and weakness, life and death, the works of God and the Word of God, — to teach us all the great, the essential doctrine of the text, “God is love !” See how He has shown it in our creation and our redemption, in the world around us, and in the world within us—the kingdom of earth, and the kingdom of heaven! How like, too, are His bounties and loving-kindnesses in both these kingdoms! It is indeed “the same God, that worketh all in all.” Look around you, as I have often before told you to do, on human life, and especially on your own life, and the blessings which each of you possess. God is with you in spiritual and temporal things, always turning upon you the same face of love. He has given you an earthly world in which you are to live here below. He gave you breath to begin life, and strength to continue it. He gives you food in health, medicine in sickness, parents and friends to guard and instruct you in youth, companions in middle life, and children to be a comfort in old age. He surrounds you with beauty to cheer your hearts on every side; sunshine
and shadow, the fruitful plains and the everlasting hills the fertilizing streams, and the bright and silent stars. God, in short, shows Himself to you in love and beauty, through every stage of your mortal life; and so it is with your spiritual life, -- that life which He has given you in His dear Son. Love rules in grace as well as in nature. Love brought down the Saviour to die for you were dead-all dead-in trespasses and sins. Love sent down the Holy Spirit to earth, by Whom ye were born again into the kingdom of Christ, as ye were born into this world by the breath of the same Spirit when ye were but insensible dust.
And your spiritual life is surrounded with love and kindness like
natural life, from its beginning on earth to its consummation in hea
God's Bible, like His world, is full of love and beauty. It tells you to whom you are to listen, namely, His ministers; through what you are to seek grace, namely, His sacraments; through Whom alone you are to be saved, namely, His Son."
“ He then proceeded to show more especially low this love was shown in the institution of the rite of Confirmation, by which careful training of the youth of Christ's Church in faith and practice was secured, and all ages taught how they must act together in furthering the common good, the older being bound to teach the young, and the young to listen to the old; while both learned to feel their submission to the rule of the Church, in having to submit to the Bishop, as its head, the test of their mutual obedience to her laws. But,' he added, “I will not now dwell more on the rite of Confirmation, as the older have already had their instruction in it, and that of the younger will soon follow. I wish to say a word to you
ali other matter, which I confess weighs heavily on my mind, and no occasion may again occur on which I can do it só properly as at present. You are surrounded with spiritual enemies on every side, and it is my particular duty to warn you of your danger. God be thanked, the foe has not yet scaled the walls of this parish, but he is loudly battering at its ramparts! Look at all the various kinds of dissent
from the Church's unity, which now stalk abroad with shameless front! Now all dissent is sin, less or more. If it differs not from the truth, it is the more unpardonable for its schism — if it does differ, so far as it differs it is the more sinful. Look at popery, which is dissent in the mask of unity error the more dangerous for boasting itself to be the truth. Look, again, at infidelity — the blasphemies of Tom Paine; beware, my children, of this sin, for I hear it has come nigh you, even to your doors.' (Here a sensation of wondering horror ran through the assembled crowd.), 'Do you ask me for a safeguard against these snares? I answer, meddle not with them! He that toucheth pitch will be defiled. To be tempted of the devil is trial enough for poor mortals to endure, but to tempt the devil himself, is of all follies the most unpardonable! It is not my duty, for it is impossible for me, to answer all the forms of error ; but it is my duty to warn you against them all; and I do so by giving you one simple safeguard, which will apply to them all alike: it is this -take my word for it, that your Church is true.Somebody's word you must take, for you are too unlearned to judge of these deep matters for yourselves, and why not mine? Have I any interest, have I any wish to deceive you? Does not my salvation rest upon my securing your own?
Have I not given my nights and my days to the study of the truth? Has not the Bishop, my spiritual head, commissioned me to preach it to you? Have I any thing in this world that I can desire in comparison with the salvation of
your souls? Do not my hoary locks, and shrinking frame, proclaim that here I have no continuing city, but must soon give an account of my stewardship to Him that sent me? Has not the Bible been my companion, and the wisest and best of all ages its interpreters for me, for nearly a century? If these things cannot be spoken against, take my word for it, till you have that of one whom you have more reasons for believing, that if you take the Bible as your law, and the Prayer Book as your practical rule of life, living up to both with a good conscience, then, my life for yours--my eternal life for yours