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ÆTAT. 21] THE DETERMINER OF THE VALUE OF TIME.
Sometimes I am enabled to come very near to God, and to speak familiarly. At other times I have such views of His majesty as keep me at a distance, and I gaze in silent
I then call to mind 'God manifest in the flesh, and feelings of unutterable tenderness rush over my soul. There is something so affecting in the idea of His laying aside His majesty and coming to hold intercourse with me, in a nature like my own, that I feel as if I could look for ever in silent wonder upon this mysterious phenomenon. The mind in attempting to measure the two extremes of humiliation and majesty is lost in sweet confusion. 'To know God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent,' this is knowledge indeed!”
4th. "I hope I feel a growing tendency towards whatever is excellent, and have more of a spirit of love than formerly. I have sometimes such strong affection for my fellow-men that I cannot avoid praying for them. These states of mind seem to indicate the existence of a divine nature within me.
What a mystery of love that God should empty us of our vileness, and fill us with His own excellence!”
“This day has not been well spent. It might have yielded twice as much profit and pleasure. If I do not take care the great object of existence will be wrested from me, after all. It is surprising what may be done if only the spirit is determined. The value of any given time is not to be estimated by its length, but by the quantity and quality of the action with which it is occupied. Above all things I see the importance of beginning well in the morning. If the first three hours be well spent, a double value is stamped on the remaining hours. I find that the fate of the day is generally decided by breakfast time. Spend three hours before breakfast in deep and profitable study, and you may spend the rest of the day as you like.”—Sir Walter Scott and
Albert Barnes, the American Commentator, furnish recent illustrations of the truth of this remark. “It was Sir Walter's practice to rise by five o'clock and light his own fire. By the time the family had assembled for breakfast, between nine and ten, he had done enough—to use his own words—to break the neck of the day's work.” Mr. Barnes has told the public that the whole of his numerous Commentaries have been written before nine o'clock a.m.
5th. “I feel an earnest, and I trust, increasing desire to advance in religion, and certainly I have much more enjoyment in it than formerly. I attribute this to regularity in devotion-retiring for prayer at noon, and praying over the portion of God's word I read. I am convinced that if we intelligently employ the means, God will never withhold His blessing."
“ Have felt to-day a calm indifference to the opinions of men. It seems a small thing that they should censure or praise me.
Happy, O God, if thou approve,
Tho' all beside condemn.'" Experience probably supplied this sentiment: "I see it is highly possible for nervous weakness to assume the garb of humility. I will keep this in view.”
6th. “Have had an unusual spirit of prayer both last night and this morning. God has appeared wonderfully great, and good, and glorious ; so much so, that I could not help exclaiming : Wonderful Being! Blessed Jehovah ! To be like Him appears so desirable that I wonder I do not every moment pray for it.”
“There are many topics in religion not suitable to the pulpit, for this obvious reason, that they exclude more important things. Satan has gained a great point if he can get ministers to occupy their minds about religion to
ON THE RANGE OF PULPIT-TOPICS.
the neglect of its vital parts. My desire is that every one who hears me may know what is the will of God concerning him, and that if any perish from under my ministry it shall not be my fault.”—It cannot be surprising if some of the sentiments of a youth of twenty-one should be immature. I think the first sentence of this paragraph claims to be so regarded. I am not sure that the converse of this statement would meet the requirements of truth. Should not topics not strictly religious be occasionally introduced ? According to both Apostolic precept and practice the preacher should be an instructor. And the range of his instruction should embrace every topic relating to man's duty-personal, domestic, social, and civil, as well as religious. To "present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” was the large and lofty aim of the great Apostle. Of course the vital truths should be prominent. But the preacher who should confine himself to these, would not only be out of analogy with the Divine procedure in the physical and moral world, but would keep back the "strong meat” requisite for the formation of full-grown men. Those who regard the declaration of Paul to the Corinthians : “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified," as opposed to the course now advocated, overlook two important facts. 1. It was not to persons familiar from their youth with Scripture-truth, as are the people of this country, that this declaration was addressed, but to idolaters. For the same reason that we must have roots before we can have fruit, the first heralds of Christianity among a people must dwell exclusively on elementary principles. 2. The vast import of “preaching Christ” is overlooked. Is there one moral truth not comprehended in it ? Does it not embrace every truth involved in man's relationship to God and to his fellows-to time and to eternity? By no means let us omit first principles—vital truths—but by no means let us keep to them, but "leaving" them "go on
unto perfection.” I am happy to find Mr. Hessel writing on another occasion : "The pulpit should communicate instruction on the minor duties of life. Most people are unable to apply general principles. They require the application to be made for them.”
7th. “Intimate communion with God gives a man a great advantage in his intercourse with men. An emi. nently good man is a moral touch-stone. He reveals the moral qualities of those with whom he comes in contact. The light shining in him discloses their darkness. The depravity of the Pharisees was never so manifest as in their intercourse with the blessed Saviour."
“My views of men and things are very much altered of late. To me this is not the same world it was a short time ago. The scenes around me appear to be rapidly changing, and perhaps this mysterious frame will soon be dissolved. Of what use have I been ? Will the interests of the divine government have been advanced, and the plans of redeeming mercy forwarded, by my residence on earth ? I hope they will in some small measure; and yet I am not without fear. When I compare what I have done with what I might have
I done, I feel ashamed. It seems wonderful that God should bear with me. There is on His part something like an obstinacy of love."
8th. “Have had some delightful thoughts of God. He has conjoined my excellence and happiness with His glory. What a wonderful connection! What a sublime mystery there is in the operations of His love! By seeking His interest I cannot but promote my own.'
9th. "In heaven, imagination will meet with objects commensurate with its creations. It will not come in these evening tides, but will roll in one eternal stream."
To allay the anxiety it was natural his parents should
ÆTAT. 21] APPRECIATION OF THE DIVINE GOODNESS. 129
experience, he writes to them on May 13th : “I received the messages you sent. I fear you are too anxious about
At present I am more comfortable here than I could be with you. You have no society at Catterton, and that is absolutely needful for me. I generally spend my evenings out; and in a small circle of friends, the greater part of whom I believe to be Christians, and the rest inclined, I experience perhaps as much enjoyment as this world can afford. Your habits and manner of life will prevent you from estimating the importance of this, and its relation to my health and happiness.
I hope you will not make yourselves unhappy about me. Why should you ? for I am very happy. I have, it is true, dark moments, but they bear no proportion to the rich enjoyments God has poured into my cup. As to my future lot, it is at His disposal who knows what is best for me, and who, I am persuaded, regards me with designs of mercy. I deem it my duty to use every practicable means for my recovery, and I calmly leave the result with Him. My views of the Divine character have lately become much inore clear and affecting. The plan of redemption appears daily more wonderful and glorious, and sometimes I have felt so elevated above this fleeting world, that I scarcely felt myself an inhabitant of it. Is not my condition much better than if I had aimed at acquiring this world's good, and succeeded even beyond the most sanguine expectations I once entertained, but been destitute of religion? Then you might have cause for sorrow, now you have none. Whatever God does will be best, best for both you
me, and surely you do not wish to alter that which is best !”
22. “Am not right this morning. My views of spiritual things are confused, and my mind is unhinged. My desires for spiritual blessings are feeble. This may be partly attributable to physical causes, but not solely. These things