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ÆTAT. 21] 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 eminently 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 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
ETAT. 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 more 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 and 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
however must not alter my resolve to wait upon God. Endeavour to keep the mind in the proper attitude, and it will not be long before a change takes place."
"I saw a great deal in London that pleased and interested me," he wrote to me after his return, June 2nd, “but of all places I think I should most dislike to live there. Time might alter my sentiments perhaps, but certainly I have loved the country much more since I left the busy scenes of the metropolis. My stay however was so short that I am scarcely entitled to form an opinion on the subject.
“I saw Dr. Ramidge and learnt that my apprehensions were correct. There is a tuberculous cavity in each lung, which, if some remedy be not applied, must terminate fatally, he says. He has put me on a course of inhalation which has already produced powerful effects. He has forbidden me to preach.
"The stream of life flows on gently. I have much enjoyment, and but little annoyance. Through the Divine blessing on the means employed I have got my mind well disciplined. Intellectual and moral excellence I now see are not of mushroom growth-they are the slow production of years. If I am destined for active life, God has shown me the necessity of preparation for it. I can wait. My acquiescence in His plans is complete. I know you will rejoice at this, and most sincerely do I thank you for your sympathy both in joy and sorrow."-Though he is silent respecting it, this "acquiescence must have cost an arduous struggle. Conquest involves conflict as certainly in spiritual as in carnal welfare. And the reader will believe that this was not a small conquest. Ambition was not likely to leave him unvisited. His love of literature was strong, and he could not doubt his power of one day augmenting its stores, and hoped, perhaps, to enrol his name among its illustrious sons. Heart-strings would be
ÆTAT. 21] HIS RESIGNATION TO THE DIVINE WILL. 131
torn and bleed therefore, before he could be brought to say : "My acquiescence in His plans is complete." But I believe this was fact. And though life was prolonged beyond what he then expected, and his health considerably invigorated, he appears to have maintained this feeling. I was in almost daily intercourse with him during the last eighteen months of his life, and I believe he could habitually say:
"Heart be still!
In the darkness of thy woe,
Comes to thee whate'er God will
Be thou still!
"Be thou still!
Vainly all thy words are spoken,
"Rest thou still!
'Tis thy Father's work of grace,—
"Lord my God!
By Thy grace, O may I be
All submissive, silently,
To the chastenings of Thy rod ;
Lord my God!
From Thy fulness grant to me
Still, yet fearless, faith in Thee,
Till from night the day shall spring!
He proceeds: "I am reading Southey's Life of Cowper. It is a great treat, although I meet with much that I cannot approve. Southey is an elegant writer, and the pleasantest biographer I have lately met with; but he is utterly unqualified to delineate some parts of Cowper's character. I